Much of Australia, especially metropolitan areas, remain under strict lockdown orders amid the spread of the particularly virulent Delta variant of COVID-19.
Reports suggest that many citizens are not fully complying with the restrictions, however, and leaders in the major city of Sydney are requesting military assistance in enforcing the rules.
“Things are likely to get worse”
Some vocal critics are opposing the move, but New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian advised that the effort is needed in the city of roughly 6 million people.
“We can only assume that things are likely to get worse before they get better given the quantity of people infectious in the community,” she said.
The Sydney lockdown has been in place for several weeks since the Delta variant first began to spread widely — and Berejiklian predicted that restrictions will remain in place until at least the end of August. Even stricter orders are being imposed on the public beginning this weekend.
Among the requirements are a near-universal mask mandate and a prohibition against residents traveling more than three miles from their homes.
Law enforcement requested the deployment of 300 military personnel who, according to Defense Minister Peter Dutton, would begin deployment on Friday and would aid police in making sure that residents comply with the lockdown orders.
“A concerning use of our armed forces”
Initial reports did not confirm whether Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison formally authorized the military deployment. It was also unclear what role the troops would play in assisting local law enforcement.
Military personnel was previously deployed to the neighboring state of Victoria, where troops helped operate testing centers as well as verify that residents were in compliance with public safety measures.
Although current restrictions in Sydney permit residents to leave only for specific reasons such as work, exercise, shopping, and medical treatment, reports indicate many individuals have openly defied or protested against the rules.
The Australian Lawyers Alliance issued a statement of opposition, describing the use of military troops as a “dangerous precedent” that should be clearly defined to avoid overreach.
ALA spokesperson Greg Barns asserted that using military troops “to ensure compliance by Australians or to deter civil disobedience is a concerning use of our armed forces.”
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Author: Ben Marquis
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