For the better part of a week, Australia’s various state governments have either been talking about rolling back coronavirus lockdown measures, or actively lifting restrictions. Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday that Australians had “earned an early mark,” bringing forward the likelihood that the nation at large might reopen for business and its citizens might be granted the freedom to venture from the confines of their homes.
Unsurprisingly, this has sent ripples of excitement through the masses: a frisson of eager anticipation as the prospect of picnics, pints, and physical interactions feels once again to be within arm’s reach. Certain states, such as Queensland and Western Australia, have become test cases for the rest of the country as the laws are relaxed and people are allowed to go forth and socialise—within certain limitations. And, in what is becoming an all too predictable trend, a number of people in those states abused their newly regained freedoms.
The ABC reports that, in the 24 hours after some coronavirus restrictions were relaxed in Queensland, state police shut down three different house parties.
On Friday night police on the Gold Coast shut down a birthday party at an AirBnB in Carrara, issuing infringement notices to seven males aged between 21 and 25 who were celebrating. Officers returned to the same residence the following night after receiving a noise complaint, and again issued infringement notices.
"Really, really disappointing that these two incidents at the one address have yielded some $33,000 in fines,” said Queensland Police Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler. "The people involved have shown a blatant disregard for the Chief Health Officer's directions."
Police shut down another birthday party in the Brisbane suburb of Banyo on Saturday, where five women and four men—all aged in their early 20s—were celebrating in a small unit. Later that night, police shut down another house party on the Gold Coast, issuing an infringement notice to the 28-year-old host as dozens of guests fled the residence.
It's incidents like these that could easily drive authorities to once again clamp down on the behaviour of people from around Australia. Despite this handful of breaches, though, Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said that overall Queenslanders had been reasonably responsible in light of the relaxed laws and mostly behaved themselves over the weekend.
"I think we should continue with this,” she said. “However if we have the blatant disregard, and a lot of it, it will jeopardise what we're trying to achieve."