One state in Australia is trying out a new way to curb the spread of COVID-19 by launching a new app designed to track residents to help enforce quarantine rules.
According to The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf, Australia was once “one of Earth’s freest societies” until the coronavirus spread around the world. Now, it has become a “hermit continent” in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.
Friedersdorf asked, “How long can a country maintain emergency restrictions on its citizens’ lives while still calling itself a liberal democracy?”
“Australia has been testing the limits,” he said.
An Australian government website says, “Australia’s borders are currently closed, and international travel from Australia remains strictly controlled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
“International travel from Australia is only available if you are exempt or you have been granted an individual exemption,” the website adds.
Friedersdorf notes that “another government website, dedicated to setting forth Australia’s human-rights-treaty obligations” says that the freedom to leave a country “cannot be made dependent on establishing a purpose or reason for leaving.”
Aside from international travel, there are also restrictions on intrastate travel.
As The Atlantic notes, “The government of South Australia, one of the country’s six states, developed and is now testing an app as Orwellian as any in the free world to enforce its quarantine rules.”
“People in South Australia will be forced to download an app that combines facial recognition and geolocation. The state will text them at random times, and thereafter they 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. ‘We don’t tell them how often or when, on a random basis they have to reply within 15 minutes,’ Premier Steven Marshall explained. ‘I think every South Australian should feel pretty proud that we are the national pilot for the home-based quarantine app,'” Friedersdorf added.
Australia has made headlines in recent days over clashes in Melbourne and Sydney between police officers and people protesting COVID-19 measures after stay-at-home orders were extended.
In another example of the harsh measures designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, one local government reportedly fatally shot dogs that were supposed to go to a shelter in another town due to concerns that shelter employees could spread the virus.
Meanwhile, other states have imposed curfews and deployed the military to enforce lockdowns.
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