What would stage four lockdowns in Australia mean?
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced tougher social distancing guidelines but said that they were “intended to be a guide” and it was up to each state and territory to enforce the new restrictions.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that Victoria was moving forward to stage three and would enforce new federal guidelines with on-the-spot fines of up to $1,600 for those ignoring the two-person gathering rules.
Under Victoria’s definition of stage three lockdown, the same four reasons apply when it comes to leaving your house. These are leaving for food and supplies, exercise, medical care or work and education if you’re unable to work from home.
These restrictions line up with the new guidelines announced by the Prime Minister on Sunday, but he was very specific in not announcing that the country was moving towards a widespread “stage three” lockdown.
Therefore, many are curious as to what stage four would look like.
“There is a stage four – just look at the UK and Europe – total lockdown,” said public policy expert and former senior Howard Government adviser Terry Barnes to news.com.au.
“The list of essential businesses or jobs gets really tight. Effectively it’s martial law without martial law. People will be monitored and fined for being out and about when they shouldn’t be, if there are too many people in a group.”
Essential services, such as supermarkets, pharmacies and petrol stations will always remain open regardless of the level of lockdown, but “anything that doesn’t relate to the necessities of life or work” would be shut down in a stage four lockdown.
“So places like Officeworks might be considered essential but the furniture department of Harvey Norman might not be,” Mr Barnes said.
“I don’t think there’s been enough very clear definition either by the federal or state governments. I think there needs to be national agreement about what those essential services are.”
Barnes pointed out that people confined to their homes might consider a trip to “Bunnings to get stuff to DIY and use their time constructively” could be considered essential.
“The point is there’s still a lot of uncertainty and that’s an issue,” he said.
“The national cabinet needs to be very clear in decision making and very clear in how they communicate. I don’t think (it’s helpful) when you have premiers saying one thing and the Prime Minister saying another.”
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