Dan O'Heirity

Victoria’s Draconian Covid-19 Lockdown Measures Are Utter Madness

As the Covid-19 virus story unfolded across Australia there was a phrase that I came to hate with an absolute passion, “flattening the curve”. It seemed to me that every Covid-19 news story had something to say about “flattening the curve”. Either we were flattening it or we were not flattening it or there was going to be another curve that we would need to flatten. It got to the point where I had to stop reading any story that had even the barest mention of a curve. Another phrase that made my blood boil had to do with talk of “waves”. We had a first wave. Then we had a second wave and now the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is talking about a possible third wave of Covid-19.

There is single fundamental reason why I have such a loathing of talk of “waves”. It conjures up images of the virus washing over us just as huge wave crashes onto a sea shore. The reality is that it is an absolute exaggeration to talk of Australia having experienced any Covid-19 waves. Sure, Australia has seen a few Covid-19 peaks followed by a decline in numbers but the numbers around each peak have been ridiculously small.

My other problem with the talk of “waves” is that such talk seems to me to be designed to keep the public in a state of fear as a means for the Victorian government to justify it’s draconian Covid-19 measures including having imposed a curfew from 8 PM until 5 AM. This is madness. As of 3rd September live data reports that there are 2295 cases currently active in Victoria. 16,370 people have recovered from the virus. 361 people are in hospital and this includes 20 patients who are in intensive care. 591 people have died from coronavirus (COVID-19) in Victoria. The total number of Covid-19 case in Victoria to date is Victoria is 19,336 giving a death rate of 2.96%. However, remember that there will quite literally be tens of thousands of undiagnosed Covid-19 cases in Victoria and so the death rate will actually be far, far below the 2.96% figure. Additionally, the total number of Covid-19 cases nationally is 25,734 cases with 663 deaths giving a death rate of 2.57%. The same point applies regarding undiagnosed cases but this time the figure for Australia as a whole will be in the hundreds of thousands.

The draconian stage four lockdown measures are due to end on the 13th September and Daniel Andrews will be making a speech on the 6th September outlining a roadmap out of lockdown. This speech will be made in the context of the state of emergency having been extended for a further 6 months in Victoria. Given that the vast majority of Covid-19 cases are in Melbourne, we will likely see two different plans, one for Melbourne and one for regional Victoria. As these plans unfold, I fear that there will be another term that I come to loathe. That term is the “bubble concept“. The idea is that there are “germ bubbles” which refers to groups of people with whom we do not have to wear face masks or practice physical distancing. At the moment “germ bubbles” are restricted to those with whom we live. Under the new roadmaps “germ bubbles” could be extended. For example, one household could nominate another household to be a part of a “germ bubble”.

Victoria is Now a Police State and Freedom of Speech is Being Supressed

A week or so ago I posted a video report showing a woman being choked by a police officer as she was arrested in a deserted street for not wearing a face mask. I wrote that this is the stuff of a totalitarian state and that no matter what she had done before the filming started, there was absolutely no excuse for six foot tall police officer choking a woman and wrestling her to the ground. Now take a look at this video in which a woman in her pyjamas is arrested at home in front of her children for anti lockdown post on FaceBook.

At the risk of repeating myself I shall make the same point here that I made about the woman being choked by a policeman. These are the sorts of moments that we saw captured on video in the early days of Covid-19 in China. People being dragged off the streets by the police. The police entering people’s homes to harass them and to arrest them. There was an outcry around the world. And yet here we are in Australia, living under police rule in Victoria. I am not usually a fan of posting comments made by YouTube viewers but this one pretty much sums up my current sentiment.

Communists in Beijing approve of how the peasants r being ruled in Victoria“.

As always one should be cautious when reporting on such stories but I ask you, is there any democratic world in which a woman in her pyjamas should be arrested in front of her children? There is no humanity here, there is no decency. The entire affair is utterly disgusting. Not only that, if true, then the story illustrates that freedom of speech – the right to express opinions without government restraint – no longer exists in Victoria. Disagreement is dissent and one can be arrested for ones’ expressing ones’ opinions. Right now I cannot see to the heart of the matter, but these are dangerous times in Victoria and perhaps more broadly across Australia. At this point I was going to marshal more evidence in favour of my argument that our civil liberties and our right to freedom of speech are being eroded in Victoria. For example, I might have pursued a line of thought to do with the fact that freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that arresting a woman for posting an anti lockdown protest message on FaceBook violates her right to freedom of expression. But, perhaps because it is Friday night and I have had a few wines, I shall instead just offer a few reflections.

Over the last six months or so I have read thousands of articles on Covid-19 related issues and I have noticed that questioning, for example, whether mask wearing is an effective countermeasure to the spread of Covid-19 will generally see the questioner labelled as a conspiracy theorist. The fact of the matter is that from a common sense perspective the mask wearing rules are non sensical. Sure, make us wear masks in confined environments such as supermarkets where someone might cough or sneeze over us or where we might inadvertently wipe our eyes or mouth after touching an infected surface. In fact, just make mask wearing mandatory when indoors. But mandatory mask wearing when out for a walk. When I go out for my allowed one hour a day walk, the closest person to me is 20 meters away. And yet, I could be arrested and dragged off to jail for not wearing a mask. Tell me where the sense is in this law? The answer is, of course, that there is no sense, I would say no medical sense to the law.

We could take another example, the curfew imposed from 8 PM through to 5 AM. This measure reminds me of the “sledgehammer to crack a nut” approach to problem solving. What possible harm could there be in my going out for a solitary walk at 9 PM at night? The answer is, of course, that there would be no harm, no Covid-19 infection implications in my going for a solitary walk around my local park. And so, right now it seems to me, that Victoria’s draconian lockdown measures serve the authorities. Let’s just lock everyone down because it is way easier to police people if we just confine them to their homes. To put it another way, imposing draconian measures removes the need to manage a more nuanced and more humane approach to dealing with Covid-19. If you wonder why this matters, then just think about the mental health toll on people who have been locked down since July. I’ll leave it to you to Google the mental health statistics in full but here is one report.

There are additional dimensions to the argument against imposing such draconian lockdown measures. First, the measures are premised on the notion that people need to be policed, that the state has to put in place draconian measures because people cannot be trusted to “do the right thing”. However, as per one of my recent posts, Victorian police reported that when they conducted home visits to check on people who should have been self-isolating, by far the vast majority of people were at home and if they were not they had valid reasons such as requiring medical attention. The other problem, might I say significant issue, is that precedents are being set here. The public are compliant and so the government is learning that people can be controlled, that they will not stand up in the face of the infringement of their civil liberties including their right to the freedom of speech. As I said earlier, dangerous times.

First Published September 4th, 2020

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