Australian officials drop the hammer after they learn about outdoor beer garden ‘pub crawl’

Australia is currently experiencing a new peak of coronavirus cases with the state of Victoria at a “tipping point” after reaching 478 new infections and seven deaths on Monday. Their state Premier Daniel Andrews is imposing tougher restrictions in response, including a ban on removing face masks in public to drink alcohol.

“There will be no removal of masks to consume alcohol outdoors, you will no longer be able to remove your mask to drink a cocktail at a pop-up beer garden on a footpath as part of a pub crawl,” Andrews announced at a Monday press conference.

“I understand Victoria Police are looking at what occurred at a weekend at a number of licensed venues. We’ve seen people turning the footpath into an impromptu beer garden and doing pub crawls. We’ve seen lots of people flouting these rules, not doing as they should, making really poor choices,” Andrews continued, referring to a bar crawl event that occurred over the weekend.

The event, “Walk. Talk. Sip,”  was advertised on social media as an outdoor bar crawl of sorts. It encouraged people in the suburb of Richmond to walk from bar to bar with takeout drinks over the weekend.

(Source: Sky News Australia)

Andrews’s response includes extending the lockdown that was supposed to end Thursday to September 2 and imposing a 9 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew beginning on Tuesday.

Critics of the new restrictions say that mandates like curfews aren’t supremely effective at curbing infection rates.

“Personally, I’m not aware of any evidence that proves that curfews per se are particularly efficacious. Clearly, we need the public to co-operate with these measures if they’re to be effective,” Jodie McVernon, the director of epidemiology at Melbourne’s Doherty Institute, told ABC Radio.

Initial pandemic restrictions imposed by Andrews saw backlash when Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton said the rules were not based on his medical advice.

‘The rules were ultimately made by me. It’s not a matter for Brett [Sutton], that’s not health advice, that’s about achieving a health outcome. His advice is ‘do whatever you can to limit movement’. Police then say ‘we need rules we can enforce,'” Andrews admitted, defending his initial round of lockdown measures.

Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton remarked that police never asked for a curfew and were only told a ‘couple of hours’ before it began.

“I was never consulted,” Patton said as he addressed Andrews’s claim. “We had never asked for a curfew. It’s not a decision that I was involved in.”

The new lockdown orders permit just five other reasons to leave home – shopping for essentials (one person per household per day), care and caregiving, exercise, authorized work and study, and receiving a vaccine. Shopping and exercise are limited to a 5km radius of a person’s home.

Kay Apfel

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