Outside observers could be forgiven for thinking today's Australians are not citizens of a free nation but instead remain prisoners of a penal colony as the nation's "zero COVID" strategy continues to strip the people of their freedoms.
Take the state of New South Wales (which includes Sydney) for instance, where people have been suffering under the lockdowns that have forced people to remain in their houses except for four narrowly defined, state-permitted reasons to exit their residences, as reported by Australia's 9News:
- shopping for only essential items;
- care and compassionate reasons — but just one visitor allowed;
- work or education that can't be conducted remotely; and
- exercise for one hour in groups no bigger than two and within five kilometers from home.
Naturally, there is a mask mandate everywhere, including outside — except when exercising, though a mask must be carried while exercising.
Plus, there is the curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. that they dare not violate lest they find themselves behind bars.
But the people in power in NSW want their subjects to know that they've got good news: They're "rewarding" fully vaccinated people with one additional hour of outside recreation time.
And the media were happy to characterize the government's move as the "reward" the authorities billed it as — with 9News calling it "a small gift" — while the premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, patted herself and fellow power holders on the back this week with her announcement that people under her control who have been fully vaccinated will "have additional freedoms" come Sept. 13.
Image source: Twitter/9News video screenshot
"Thank you to the millions of people across NSW who have come forward to get vaccinated. From Monday, 13 September, you will have additional freedoms if you have had both doses," she tweeted, along with a statement highlighting the guidelines on "new freedoms for vaccinated."
On that day in mid-September, the statement said, all NSW folks who have received both doses of the vaccine will be allowed to gather outdoors for an additional one hour — and the government wants people to understand that the graciously granted extra hour of outdoor recreation is "in addition to the one hour allowed for exercise."
● For those who live outside the LGAs [local government areas] of concern, outdoor gatherings of up to five people (including children) will be allowed in a person's LGA or within 5km of home.
● For those who live in the LGAs of concern, households with all adults vaccinated will be able to gather outdoors for recreation (including picnics) within the existing rules (for one hour only, outside curfew hours and within 5km of home). This is in addition to the one hour allowed for exercise.
The statement also teased more "freedoms" to be given to well-behaved, fully vaxxed citizens once they get 70% of people vaccinated, including "a range of family, industry, community and economic restrictions to be lifted."
Deputy Premier John Barilaro praised the move as a "clear pathway forward," and promised that if his people will just obey, then "having a meal with loved ones, or having a drink with friends is just around the corner."