World’s longest Covid lockdown loosens as tyrannical politician is shamed by rival

Residents of Melbourne, Australia just gained a little bit of freedom back after enduring the longest Covid lockdown of any city in the world: 262 days, edging out London and Buenos Aires for the dubious title. According to Anthony Piovesan and Matt Young of the Murdoch empire’s news.com.au:

Melbourne has erupted with cheers as the world’s longest lockdown was officially lifted overnight.

Victoria’s sixth coronavirus lockdown was finally lifted at 11.59pm on Thursday after 262 days of harsh Covid-19 measures since the pandemic hit.

The CBD erupted and cheers and applause could be heard echoing through the city as the clock struck midnight, with residents clapping from balconies and shouting “freedom”.

“They can hear yelling from surrounding balconies like it was New Years,” ABC reporter Amy Gray noted.

Under the yoke of Premier Daniel Andrews of the State of Victoria, a Labor Party progressive, Melburnians have suffered absurd limitations on their personal freedoms. When large-scale demonstrations against the lockdowns emerged, they were brutally repressed by the police. In Australia, police forces are run by each of the states, and under Andrews, police fired rubber bullets into crowds and assaulted individual protesters.

Andrews saw the neighboring rival state of New South Wales and its capital city Sydney celebrate “freedom day” on October 10th, when a new premier took office there. (Former premier Gladys Berejiklian resigned after it became known that she was under investigation for corruption, and was replaced by Dominic Perrottet, both of them of the Liberal Party, which is the largest conservative party in Australia.)

As our Aussie reader John McMahon emailed:

The current vaccination and the current number of cases rates previously unacceptable all of a sudden became acceptable when NSW opened up.

But for all the cheers for the liberation that Andrews announced solely on his own authority, they still have many restrictions.  The Guardian calls the moves so enthusiastically celebrated, the “first cautious steps to reopening.”

Here are the “freedoms” that now can be enjoyed in Victoria:

People will be allowed to have ten visitors to their home each day, including their dependents. Previously people were not allowed to have anyone over.

Gatherings outside will change from five fully-vaccinated people to 15.

The 10km travel limit in metropolitan Melbourne will be scrapped, but travel to regional areas is still barred.

The 9pm to 5am curfew or limit on reasons to leave the home will also be scrapped.

General retail will be open for outdoor service, as well as click and collect. Retail was only previously open for click and collect during lockdown.

Hairdressers – after being forced to shut when the latest lockdown was enforced – will now be able to open for five fully vaccinated people.

Victorian venues will be open for indoor food and drink service but only for a maxim of 20 vaccinated people. (snip)

Venues will start opening for indoor food and drink service but only for a maxim of 20 vaccinated people. Venues were previously only allowed to do takeaway services.

Outdoor community sport will be allowed again for training only.

Weddings will be allowed for up to 20 fully vaccinated people or 10 unvaccinated people indoors. Fifty fully vaccinated or 20 unvaccinated people can attend outdoor weddings subject to density limits.

People will be allowed to have ten visitors to their home each day, including their dependents. Previously people were not allowed to have anyone over.

Gatherings outside will change from five fully-vaccinated people to 15. [emphases added]

Commentator Bill Muhlenberg is acerbic about the limited nature of the opening up:

 Melbourne, relaxed a few restrictions – somewhat. It would be ludicrous to compare this with what happened in NSW a few weeks ago. There they really could celebrate ‘Freedom Day’ under the very strong leadership of Dominic Perrottet. But no such luck here. (snip)

The truth is, we are STILL in our sixth lockdown! Yes, we have had a minor reprieve, but madness still prevails. We still have these ludicrous restrictions: a 25km travel limit; retail is still closed; schools are still mostly closed; and so on. Um, that is NOT freedom by any stretch of the imagination.

The very fact that Chairman Andrews has made any moves away from lockdown lunacy here is really due to Perrottet: he has shamed Andrews into action. Sydney and NSW are leading the nation in how to proceed, leaving states like Victoria in the dust. So Andrews has been forced to act – at least a little bit – in order not to look like the buffoon that he has been.

It is important to note that not all of Australia’s states have gone to extremes in responding to Covid, as many American commentators have assumed. Australia’s version of federalism is in some ways more robust than America’s.  

Melbourne has been devastated by the Andrews lockdowns This four-minute video shows the deserted streets, vacant storefronts, and propaganda signs instilling fear in the populace of a city of five million that for seven years in a row had been voted “the world’s most livable city.”

I had the good fortune during my consulting career to have a client in Melbourne, and it became one of my favorite cities in the world. It lacks the spectacular scenery of its rival Sydney, but it has immense charm. A glittering central business district, a huge and vibrant arts community, and wonderful neighborhoods, full of terrific family restaurants of all ethnic persuasions and pubs where locals welcomed Yanks and bought more than a few beers for their visitors. Maybe it is the “second city" complex that makes people try harder. Whatever the reason for its charm, Melbourne has been through an entirely unnecessary hell created by a power-mad politician using fear to subdue his constituents into subjects.

Photo credit: YouTube screengrab

Major hat tip: John McMahon

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