States of emergency: an analysis of COVID-19 petty restrictions

COVID-19 Infectious diseases Public health Social connection Disease management Australia

Since the World Health Organization’s declaration of the coronavirus as a pandemic-level public health event Australians have been subject to an increasingly arbitrary, inconsistent and petty public policy response. The policy response has been felt by Australians in the form of enforced social distancing and isolation measures in order to delay the spread of the virus so that the number of active coronavirus cases does not at any time exceed the capacity of the health system to provide the appropriate level of care. The Commonwealth Department of Health has explained that keeping 1.5 metres away from other people and practicing good hygiene are essential to the social distancing which is necessary to meet this public health regulatory objective. However, many of the strict rules imposed by state governments have failed to take into consideration whether those activities can be undertaken while maintaining distancing of 1.5 metres.

The purpose of this report is to outline the petty implementation of restrictions of recreational and family activities which can be undertaken while maintaining 1.5 metre distancing. Specifically, the author asks if whether a person in each state is allowed to participate in a number of mundane recreational or social activities, such as whether a person is allowed to learn how to drive or visit your immediate family during the period of enforced distancing.


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