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Powers to detain ‘high-risk’ Victorians

The Victorian Government is hoping to push through a new bill that would allow them to detain “high-risk” coronavirus spreaders.The powers would be applied to those who health authorities believe would negligently spread the deadly virus as Victoria works to bring its coronavirus outbreak under control.The rules, seen by The Age, would be a six-month…

The Victorian Government is hoping to push through a new bill that would allow them to detain “high-risk” coronavirus spreaders.

The powers would be applied to those who health authorities believe would negligently spread the deadly virus as Victoria works to bring its coronavirus outbreak under control.

The rules, seen by The Age, would be a six-month extension of the ones made in April, taking the detaining powers to March next year.

Anyone deemed high risk by health authorities could be forcibly detained under the extension of powers including conspiracy theorists or anti-lockdown protesters who refuse to isolate.

Almost 200 people were fined and 74 were arrested in Melbourne on Sunday during dramatic rallies as anti-lockdown protesters ramped up their campaign.

Victoria Police said 176 fines were issued for breaches of the chief health officer directions.

It said the biggest protest occurred at the Queen Victoria Market where some 200-250 people gathered.

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Mentally impaired, severely drug-affected or homeless Victorians – those unable to quarantine – could also be placed in hotels for two weeks as a precaution.

The powers will be debated in state parliament this week under the Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill.

The Victorian Government said the bill would help them maintain a strong pandemic response and expand the number of authorised officers working to keep coronavirus under control.

Victoria’s state of emergency and state of disaster – due to end on October 11 – allows authorised officers to detain anyone “for the period reasonably necessary to eliminate or reduce a serious risk to public health”.

In a statement to The Age, Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said the extension of the detainee powers would “allow us to continue responding to the challenges the pandemic presents, so we can keep protecting Victorians and delivering the services they rely on”.

Some small restrictions were eased across Victoria from yesterday as the state continued to see a drop in its coronavirus cases.

Victoria recorded 42 new cases yesterday and zero deaths.

Harsh stage 4 lockdowns had been drafted to end on Sunday, but Victorian Premier Dan Andrews last week announced case numbers needed to be driven even lower before this happened.

“If we go too far too soon, the modelling also tells us we’d be on track for a third wave by mid-November,” Mr Andrews said.

“That’d mean we’re back to where we are now, maybe even worse. Days, weeks, months of sacrifice – gone. Confidence for business – destroyed. More families suffering. More lives lost.

“It’s why, even as we release a road map for reopening, it’s got to be done in safe, steady and sustainable steps.”

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