Australia

‘AUSSIES ARE SOFT’: City confines locals to their homes for 200 days

A man living under a severe lockdown in the Philippines city of Angeles said the mayor of his area makes Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews look like a “pussycat”.

Angeles resident Andrew Fleming told news.com.au the harsh coronavirus lockdowns in his hometown have meant people under the age of 21 and those over the age of 60 and pregnant women have been “confined to the house” for 200 days.

He said people had been living on rations and he himself had only received one delivery of a bag of rice and 20 cans of sardines throughout the pandemic.

The highly urbanised city in the Philippines has a population of more than 411,000 with 183 active cases recorded on September 17.

Mayor Carmelo Lazatin, Jr has published an extensive list of regulations that include a curfew from 11pm to 5am, quarantine passes for those leaving home, mandatory wearing of masks and face shields in some places and strict bans on public gatherings.

Buffet meals are banned and gyms must operate at 30 per cent capacity, while those visiting indoor markets must have their feet washed before entry.

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Mr Fleming said before the pandemic hit the city was a bustling entertainment capital, known for its bars and night spots.

But now people meeting for a drink hide their beers in coffee cups “1920s style” so patrolling police can’t catch them drinking.

Mr Fleming said the city had closed all the bars apart from those inside restaurants — and entry was conditional — punters need to wear a mask and a face shield, have their temperature checked, give over contact details, have their hands and feet sanitised and then sit behind plastic shields.

The state of Victoria has endured its own harsh lockdown for the past six weeks, with stage four lockdowns enforced in metropolitan Melbourne. But Mr Fleming thinks complaining Aussies are being soft.

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The measures put in place to control a second wave of coronavirus cases have been lambasted by opponents of the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, and increasingly by some agitated Victorians, who say their livelihoods have been damaged by the measures.

In metropolitan Melbourne, residents have only been allowed to leave their home for four specific reasons, and have been under a strict curfew from 8pm to 5am — which was extended to 9pm-5am last week.

But Mr Fleming said “Aussies amaze me when they complain about conditions, they are soft”.

He said Angeles had been closed off to tourists and bus services to and from other cities had been abandoned. Between suburbs (called Barangays) there were police checkpoints. Motorcyclists with pillion passengers have to put a shield between them and the passengers while travelling, he said.

The most recent list of regulations in the city of Angeles is 32 pages long. A resident wrote on the city’s Facebook page that the guidelines were “growing into a novel”.

Meanwhile, metropolitan Melbourne is now on its way to easing out of restrictions.

As the city’s 14-day-average for daily case numbers continues to track between 30 and 50, the Victorian capital is on target to ease restrictions by September 28.

On Friday, Victoria reported 45 new cases of COVID-19.

This took the city’s 14-day-average to 42.7, down from 44.4 the previous day.

If numbers remain low, it will mean a range of restrictions are eased, including residents being able to socialise in “social bubbles” with other households.

There would also be a phased return to work for some work forces and schools and universities.

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