Residents in apartment buildings that have been locked down by Australia‘s New South Wales state health department over COVID-19 concerns say they have had their deliveries searched and have had packages containing alcohol confiscated if the amount exceeds the department’s prescribed alcohol limit.
In apartment blocks locked down by NSW Health, residents are having their alcohol deliveries policed in accordance with the department’s policy, which allows residents to receive a ration of six beers or pre-mixed drinks, one bottle of wine, or one 375ml bottle of spirits, according to news.com.au.
Any alcohol outside the limit is being confiscated until lockdown rules are lifted, according to the report. Residents may ask a clinician if they want more than the prescribed limits.
At Mission Australia’s Common Ground building, residents have said care packages sent by friends and relatives are being searched before they are delivered.
“They are searching all bags and things coming into the building … They confiscated a series of gifts. So things like bottles of spirits, we weren’t allowed to have those and we still (aren’t),” one resident told the outlet.
A Sydney Local Health District spokeswoman told the news site that the alcohol limits are being enforced in the state health department’s special accommodations where COVID-positive patients and close contacts are sent for isolation.
The spokeswoman said that when NSW Health took over the apartment buildings in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the buildings became subject to alcohol consumption restrictions.
The state’s public health orders do not include alcohol limits; it is unclear what power the department has to limit the delivery of alcohol to individuals isolating in their own homes.
A spokesperson for NSW Police said officers are not confiscating alcohol delivered to residential buildings and that they do not have the authority to do so.
“In all residential lockdown locations, NSW Police are there to ensure compliance with the Public Health Orders and assist NSW Health if required,” the spokesperson reportedly told the outlet.
Australia has placed harsh restrictions on its citizens since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several months ago, the chief health officer of New South Wales warned citizens that “Whilst it is in human nature to engage in conversation with others, to be friendly, unfortunately this is not the time to do that.”
Meanwhile, Melbourne, located in the state of Victoria, has a curfew in place and has limited the ability of residents to leave their homes. Those who do not comply with the limits may be subject to significant fines.