Lockdowns, Yesterday, Today, Forever

By: George William

The Scottish Government is seeking to make it’s emergency powers to combat Covid permanent.

Currently the government is requesting the public’s opinion on removing the expiration date on the measures. Most of the measures are due to end in March 2022.

“The proposal is, therefore, to give the Scottish ministers the same powers to protect the people of Scotland from any incidence or spread of infection or contamination which presents, or could present, significant harm to human health in Scotland, not just Covid.” said the statement given by the government.

Ministers would also be able to order school closures “during the remainder of the pandemic” or for any future outbreak of an infectious disease, so long as they believe it is “necessary and proportionate”, and the chief medical officer has been consulted.

Other powers the ministers wish to extend would be “to order the release of groups of prisoners” to alleviate pressure on the prison system. Towards the start of the pandemic, 348 prisoners were released up to 90 days early from their sentences, although inmates convicted of domestic violence, harassment or Covid-related offences were automatically excluded.

Swinney, the Covid recovery secretary, said: “We want to ensure we remove measures no longer needed in order to respond to the pandemic whilst keeping those where there is demonstrable benefit to the people of Scotland.

“This is an opportunity to maintain changes that have been welcomed by people who now don’t want to lose transformations that have been innovative, beneficial, and increased access to services.

“While the pandemic has been incredibly disruptive, its urgency has forced the public services we rely on to adapt and continue and still deliver, driving the pace of digital adoption, and in some cases more efficient ways of working.

“As we enter the recovery phase, we now have a unique opportunity to reimagine how health and social care, learning and justice services can be designed and delivered around the lives and needs of the people who use them.

“I invite everyone to have their say on what this future should look like to support a fair, safe and secure recovery. Your views on these proposals will inform any future legislation to be brought forward on these topics for full scrutiny and debate in Parliament.

“We remain committed to expiring or suspending any existing provisions that are no longer necessary, and will continue to report to Parliament every two months on the use of any temporary powers.”

Scotland’s current 7-day average for Covid cases/deaths is 1,434/6. This is in contrast to the peak which was a 7-day average of cases/deaths 3,454/60.

Scotland is not the only one pursuing such measures.

Premier Daniel Andrews of Australia has proposed to extend the coronavirus state of emergency by another 12 months.

Mr Andrews has stressed the move would not automatically keep Victorians in lockdown, but would provide the Government with a legal framework to do things such as enforce the wearing of masks and regulate hotel quarantine restrictions.

Each state or territory has taken different restriction measures in order to contain Covid.

For Victoria, the state of emergency will expire on September 13 and with it, the ability to require people diagnosed to stay home, along with other measures.

The state’s Health Minister, Jenny Mikakos, says Victorians should brace for a third wave if the state of emergency is not extended.

The government of WA can force citizens to wear an electronic monitoring device to make sure they aren’t breaking quarantine. The government is now seeking to extend that power to force those same measures on potential criminals.

Queensland, who’s public health emergency ends Oct. 2, has shut all boarders with neighboring states. Gatherings have been limited and masks are not mandatory yet.

In New South Wales the government is not hampered with such legislation and the state’s Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, can make any direction he see’s fit.

Other authorised officers can do things such as:

  • Enter and inspect any premises relevant to public health
  • Take samples, photos or videos and inspect documents that might relate to the pandemic
  • Compel anyone to answer questions relating to public health

Canberra extended it’s public health emergency until Nov 19th. It’s current order only restrictics gatherings and forces people to quarantine.

South Australia’s powers have been extended until Sep 19th and says that authorised officers can:

  • Break into any land, building, structure or vehicle using whatever force necessary
  • Direct or prohibit the movement of people, animals or vehicles
  • Put people in quarantine
  • Order people to undergo medical exams, tests or treatment
  • Compel people to give information
  • Police in uniform don’t have to show their credentials before exercising these powers.Non-uniformedicers need a certificate of authority, but only have to show it if requested.

In the Northern Territory the emergency declaration ends on September 24. The Health Minister, Natasha Fyles, recently warned the strict border restrictions could be in place for years.

Authorised officers can use whatever force is necessary to:

Remove someone from somewhere
Prevent someone from entering a place
Search for and seize anything related to public health
Examine and remove documents relating to the health emergency
What’s more, they can do it at any time of day and without notice or a warrant.

Currently in Tasmania, the state of emergency expires at the end of August. With it still in effect there are similar powers granted to Tasmanian authorities to restrict the movement of people at risk, enter premises, compel people to answer questions and close public places.

Australia’s current 7-day average for cases and deaths is 441/4. At the peak the 7-day average for cases and deaths was 552/21.

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