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Victoria stage 3 lockdown: Couple argue over reporting neighbours for breaking COVID-19 restrictions

As Victorians reel from Premier Daniel Andrews’ announcement that strict second lockdown will continue beyond September, the question of whether you should report someone for breaking coronavirus restrictions is growing louder.

The debate has been raging in a Facebook parenting group since a woman living under Stage Three lockdown in rural Victoria asked members if she should report her neighbours for having dinner parties in defiance of COVID-19 emergency laws.

After spotting ‘several different cars’ outside their house, the woman – who is separated from her family living overseas – said she almost notified Victoria Police but relented after arguing with her partner who believes she is overreacting.

‘I just feel like we are all sacrificing so much at the moment but there are so many people who keep ignoring the rules and thinking they don’t apply to them. Should I just stay in my own lane or should I report them?’ she asked.

 

Stage Three ‘stay at home’ orders took effect across country Victoria at midnight on Wednesday, August 5, including a blanket ban on having social visitors to your home.

Would you report someone for breaking COVID-19 restrictions?

Would you report someone for breaking COVID-19 restrictions?

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While many urged her to contact authorities about the breach, other responses reveal a country divided between wanting to trust each other and mounting resentment of life under such extraordinary limitations.

‘Report them, 100 percent. Sorry, but your partner needs to pull his head in. I reported so many of my neighbours during stage three (I’m in stage four now), no regrets!’ one woman from Melbourne said.

‘Report them please! Our health services are under immense strain and we can’t fight this thing alone,’ said another.

‘I also live in regional Vic (sic) and reporting is common in my town. It’s anonymous, just do it.’ 

That’s the official advice from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which advises anyone who suspects a breach to contact the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398 and select Option Four – a direct line to Victoria Police.

The state police have fined 199 people for breaching coronavirus restrictions, including a man who told officers he ‘got bored at home’ and wanted to visit a friend.

But others railed against the government instruction. 

‘Do not report them! Live and let live. I would think less of you for reporting them, than I do them breaking the rules. I would never consider this unless someone was in immediate danger,’ a Sydney mother replied. 

Some stood on middle ground, with one woman noting how difficult it has been to adjust to life in the shadow of a global pandemic.

‘You’re definitely not overreacting, but I also understand where your husband is coming from. It’s hard for us to realise in these times that things have changed,’ she said.

Another suggested sending the flouters a typed letter to ‘give them an anonymous warning that they will be reported’ if they continue to have guests over. 

The dispute highlights the mood of Victorians jaded and infuriated by the virus-stricken state’s second wave.

Lockdown fatigue is accelerating by the minute, but Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday announced the the State of Emergency will be in place for 18 months and lockdown restrictions will be extended beyond September 13.

This is despite the state recording its lowest rise in COVID-19 infections in seven weeks with 116 new cases and 15 additional fatalities on Monday.

‘It is not an unlimited extension, it is nothing more than a recognition that this virus won’t be over on September 30,’ Mr Andrews said.

‘I would love nothing more for there to be no need for any rules on September 14, but I don’t think that is the reality.’

While the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 only allows a State of Emergency to operate for six months, the premier said amendments are being made to change it.

For the city of five million, it means an indefinite continuation of mandatory masks, 8pm to 5am curfew, a five kilometre travel radius and a ban on leaving the home save for one-hour of exercise, permitted work and care-giving to the elderly or vulnerable.

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