Yes, it is indeed the end of the world: the end of the free world. Something worse than the end of the world as it is better to die free than to live as a prisoner. Prisoner in your own house. Nothing can be worse than this “house arrest” imposed on everybody without any crime being committed.
The state of Victoria has imposed one of the harshest lockdowns seen anywhere in the world during the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s provided an insight into what some leaders might get away with in the future.
Winston Churchill once said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Politicians the world over are adept at following this motto. Within days of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US Congress overwhelmingly passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) joint resolution which gave
President Bush powers to invade Afghanistan and was later used by President Obama to justify US military action further afield in Libya and Syria. Only one legislator voted against the resolution in 2001.
Once sweeping powers are bestowed upon a leader, rolling them back is a harder job. The coronavirus pandemic took the world by surprise. Indeed, 12 months ago, no one could have imagined the events that would transpire throughout 2020. The pandemic has reportedly caused over 850,000 deaths worldwide with an overall fatality rate of approximately one percent according to The Lancet. (In comparison, seasonal flu kills 0.1 percent of those it infects and the SARS outbreaks between 2002 and 2004 had a mortality rate of 10 percent).
Whereas children and healthy adults who catch the virus typically suffer a mild or even asymptomatic illness, those in their mid-70s or older have over a 10 percent chance of death. Younger individuals with underlying health problems are also at greater risk. In the UK, of the roughly 40,000 deaths attributed to coronavirus, approximately 20,000 have been care home residents.
Australia, a country with a population of 25 million, has been far less affected by coronavirus, having reported around 770 deaths to date. Despite this, the lockdown measures, particularly those currently operating in Melbourne, Victoria – which has seen the majority of the country’s deaths and where 96 percent have occurred in those over the age of 40 – have been far stricter in comparison to other nations.
The Victorian state government further tightened restrictions in early August. There is now a curfew in place in Melbourne between 8pm and 5am, with the only exceptions being “work, medical care and caregiving.” (This will be loosened slightly from 9pm to 5am from September 14).
Those Melbourne workers who are allowed to leave their homes during the day must be in possession of a work permit, which they must display if challenged by police or else risk fines exceeding a thousand dollars. (Police have thus far reportedly given out $2.9 million (AUD) in fines for breaching the curfew). Police are also permitted to enter a residence without a warrant. Drones and military forces are used to ensure there are no restriction breaches.
A few days ago, a pregnant woman was arrested and handcuffed at home in her pyjamas and in view of her children for alleged ‘incitement’ after endorsing an anti-lockdown protest on Facebook, a move that was swiftly criticised by the professional body that represents Victorian barristers as “disproportionate” to the threat she presented.