Heavy-handed Melbourne police 'check coffee cups' to ensure residents aren't violating mask mandates

·2 min read
Heavy-handed Melbourne police 'check coffee cups' to ensure residents aren't violating mask mandates - JAMES ROSS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock /Shutterstock
Heavy-handed Melbourne police 'check coffee cups' to ensure residents aren't violating mask mandates - JAMES ROSS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock /Shutterstock

Footage has emerged of police in Victoria checking people’s coffee cups in a park to ensure they were genuinely drinking coffee and not using an empty cup as a prop for avoiding wearing a mask.

The Australian state has endured over 250 days’ worth of lockdowns over the past 20 months as it has battled three waves of Covid-19.

Most recently Victorian officials have used restrictions, including outdoor and indoor mask mandates, and a ramped-up vaccination rollout to tackle the Delta-variant.

The footage emerged over the weekend, with some arguing it highlights an excessive approach to enforcing Covid restrictions that has characterised the state’s pandemic strategy.

Most notoriously, Victorian officials locked-down eight public housing towers in July 2020 for five days, and one public housing tower for two weeks, surrounding the buildings with police and refusing to allow some 3,000 residents in total to leave their flats. The state’s ombudsman later ruled that the move violated the human rights of the residents but the government refused to apologise.

Victoria is on target to have 70 per cent of its eligible population fully vaccinated by Thursday, when the bulk of restrictions are due to be lifted at 11.59pm.

On Sunday Premier Daniel Andrews said the government was easing out of lockdown sooner than originally scheduled because “the Victorian community has done so well in getting vaccinated so fast”.

There will no longer be a travel limit within metropolitan Melbourne, Australia’s second-biggest city, and ten visitors will be allowed to visit each home per day.

Melbourne residents still won’t be able to visit regional Victoria, where there have been comparatively few Covid cases, but outside gatherings of up to 15 people can be held in the city and indoor seated service is returning – so long as the customers are vaccinated – to the city’s hospitality sector.

Schools and barbers are re-opening, but non-essential retail will remain closed until the next stage of easing out of lockdown.

Victoria has lost 970 people Covid-19, the vast majority of which died during the second wave in 2020. In 2021, vaccinations and restrictions have kept deaths relatively low.

Watch: The world's most locked-down city set to open up

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