Over the past year and a half, attempts to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic have involved governments around the world seizing new powers and further expanding the scope of the state. Lockdown restrictions have seen disruption to normal life for almost everyone. However, some authorities have taken their new privileges to a level beyond what any reasonable government should be able to do, and led to a range of truly shocking incidents.
1. In the Philippines, a man was fatally shot over a curfew violation
In August, a man was shot dead in the Philippines over a curfew violation. The victim, who was reportedly struggling with mental health problems, was confronted by a public safety officer, essentially a village watchman employed by the police. These watchmen have been instructed to issue fines to anyone breaching the curfew.
After he was reprimanded, the victim allegedly made a threatening gesture with the wooden stick he was carrying and then walked away. At this point, the public safety officer loaded his gun, pursued the man, and fatally shot him. The incident was caught on camera and is now being investigated.
2. Another man was fatally shot by police due to lockdown restrictions in Albania
Similarly, in December 2020, a man was shot dead by authorities in Albania when he was spotted outside during the hours of an overnight curfew. Police claimed that 25-year-old Klodian Rasha had failed to obey an order to stop before his fatal shooting. It was also alleged that Rasha was carrying a weapon, although this was later confirmed to be untrue.
Albanian police subsequently described the incident as an excessive use of force by an officer. However, large protests emerged across the country, with hundreds of protesters being dispersed by authorities through the use of tear gas. Such incidents serve as a tragic reminder of the risk of escalation and tension between civilians and law enforcement when blanket orders are issued.
3. In Australia, local authorities shot dead 15 dogs at a shelter
In Australia, where lockdown restrictions have been notoriously severe, 15 rescue dogs, including 10 puppies, were shot dead by local authorities in Bourke, New South Wales. This shocking act was carried out in order to ensure that volunteers from outlying areas would not travel to care for the dogs.
Under the Bourke Shire Council’s interpretation of lockdown restrictions, this course of action was “necessary” to protect the local community from COVID-19, as a stay-at-home order is in place across New South Wales.
4. A man suffered a heart attack after being arrested for not wearing a mask
Staying in Australia, a disturbing incident occurred in August at Brisbane Botanical Gardens, where an elderly man suffered a heart attack after being arrested for not wearing a face mask. He had told police that he was unable to wear a mask due to heart problems and breathing difficulties. However, they did not believe him.
As the man was being dragged away in handcuffs, he suddenly collapsed and suffered seizures, which police initially failed to take seriously. As he tried to reach for medication in his bag, police held him to the ground. Thankfully, the man survived the ordeal, much of which was recorded by his partner who was able to stand up for him.
5. Lockdown restrictions meant a three-year-old boy was separated from his parents for two months
Returning once again to Australia, a three-year-old boy was separated from his parents for two months due to internal border closures. In July, the young boy had traveled to spend time with his grandparents on a cattle station in New South Wales.
Shortly thereafter, his home state of Queensland closed its borders with New South Wales at short notice due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in Sydney. The boy’s parents applied multiple times unsuccessfully for an exemption that would allow him to return home on compassionate grounds.
After the family’s plight gained widespread media attention, an exemption was finally granted, although the boy will still have to undergo a two-week quarantine upon his return to Queensland.
6. The introduction of Australia’s new quarantine app
Australia again? You better believe it. While lockdown restrictions still prohibit international travel, authorities in South Australia have introduced a new app as part of their quarantine policy for citizens returning from other parts of the country. Downloading this new app is a requirement for anyone arriving in South Australia from another state who wishes to serve out their mandatory 14-day quarantine at home rather than in a designated hotel.
South Australia’s quarantine app uses a combination of facial recognition and geolocation technology, functioning by requesting proof of identity and location within 15 minutes at random times. If someone fails to supply this information within the 15-minute period, the app will inform law enforcement who will then conduct an in-person check at the person’s address. That’s right, if you, an innocent citizen, don’t provide the government with your identity and location when asked, they may well break down your bathroom door while you’re having a shower…
Intended to apply to international arrivals whenever such travel is permitted again, similar apps are also being rolled out in other states as a more practical alternative to quarantine hotels. South Australia’s Premier, Steven Marshall, stated his belief that “every South Australian should feel pretty proud that we are the national pilot for the home-based quarantine app.”
7. After banning large events, an Irish politician was seen at a music festival abroad
In a bizarre turn of events, Ireland’s deputy head of government (Tánaiste), Leo Varadkar, faced significant backlash after being seen attending a music festival in England. This came shortly after he had criticized England’s policy to allow such events and defended the continuation of a ban on large events in Ireland.
A spokesperson asserted that the Tánaiste is free to do whatever he wants in his free time and that his presence at the festival was in accordance with guidelines in place locally. However, Varadkar’s trip to the Mighty Hoopla festival in London felt particularly provocative for those working in Ireland’s music and entertainment industry, with much-anticipated events being cancelled due to government lockdown regulations.
Nothing annoys the average person more when it comes to politics than politicians thinking that the misery they inflict on people doesn’t apply to them.
One must wonder how things ever got to this point. Lockdown restrictions have caused so much damage, and yet it seems the “new normal” of post-covid life also applies to how much the state thinks it can get away with. If we’re to return to any level of sanity, governments need to realize that the time for drastic action was over a year ago, and not now.
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