Authoritarian measures under the guise of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be implemented by Australian authorities and now include the limiting of alcoholic beverages to residents of locked-down apartment complexes in New South Wales (NSW).
According to news.com.au, the complexes have been placed under lockdown by NSW Health authorities, who are now monitoring and policing alcohol deliveries “as part of a policy to limit the number of drinks being consumed each day.”
The health agency imposed rules limiting alcoholic drinks to residents living in “NSW Health controlled buildings” so as to “ensure the safety of health staff and residents.”
The latest building complex to fall under the rules, according to the news outlet, is Mission Australia’s Common Ground building in Camperdown.
The crackdown has been met with complaints by residents of the complexes who say that Aussie health authorities are searching care packages sent to them by relatives before allowing them to be delivered.
“They are searching all bags and things coming into the building … They confiscated a series of gifts. So things like bottles of spirits, we weren’t allowed to have those and we still (aren’t),” Common Ground resident Robin Elhaj told the national news outlet.
According to the report, residents can have one of the following rationed alcoholic beverages: A half-dozen beers or premixed drinks; one bottle of wine; or a 375 ml “bottle of spirits.” Until the coronavirus lockdown rule is lifted, excess alcohol ‘rations’ are being confiscated by health authorities.
“Residents can consult with a clinician if they think they need more than the allowed limit,” news.com.au added.
The news outlet confirmed the rations with a Sydney Local Health District official, as part of NSW Health’s Special Health Accommodation, “where COVID-positive patients and close contacts are sent for isolation.”
That said, it’s not clear what authority the health agency is using to limit or confiscate alcoholic beverages to people who have been ordered to self-isolate in their homes since current public health orders make no mention of limits on alcohol.
A spokeswoman for NSW Police said that officers are not involved in the confiscation of alcoholic beverages and have not been authorized to carry out such actions. Rather, “in all residential lockdown locations, NSW Police are there to ensure compliance with the Public Health Orders and assist NSW Health if required,” the spokeswoman said.
A Sydney Local Health District official told the outlet that when NSW Health acquired control over apartment complexes with the aim of limiting COVID spread, those buildings then fell under the alcohol restrictions.
The alcohol limits are the latest in a series of draconian measures implemented in Australia under the auspices of the still-lingering pandemic.
Last week, the Australian government closed its borders while also severely limiting travel from the country to elsewhere.
“International travel from Australia is only available if you are exempt or you have been granted an individual exemption,” the government noted in a statement.
In addition, the national government also restricted interstate travel within the country. Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic noted that citizens in South Australia are required to “download an app that combines facial recognition and geolocation” so that the state can “text them at random times” to determine if they are abiding by travel rules.
Once a citizen has been texted by a government functionary, he or she “will have 15 minutes to take a picture of their face in the location where they are supposed to be. Should they fail, the local police department will be sent to follow up in person.”
In August, as new COVID restrictions were being implemented, a rural council fell under investigation after it ordered sheltered dogs shot and killed so that no one would venture out of their locked-down homes to adopt one.
And in July, the government announced plans to deploy Australian military personnel to help local authorities enforce pandemic restrictions.
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