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Covid-19 Melbourne: Authorities to deploy surveillance drones to catch people not wearing masks

Authorities in Melbourne, Australia will deploy high-tech surveillance drones to catch people outside of their homes who are not wearing masks as well as to scan for vehicles that are in violation of curfew by being more than 5km from home, reports 7News Melbourne. The drones will also be used to ensure skate parks and playgrounds remain empty.

The surveillance craft can be flown up to a distance of 7km and produce images so clear they can “read a vehicle’s number plate from 500 metres away.” 7News Melbourne spoke to two residents who said they weren’t worried as they were behaving and had “nothing to hide.” Privacy advocates are concerned there is no sunset clause on the use of such technology and the drones could continue to be deployed to spy on citizens after the pandemic ends.

The measures are just the latest example of what represents one of the most draconian coronavirus lockdowns in the developed world after the state of Victoria announced a “state of disaster” in response to an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

There have been several instances of police physically tackling people for not adhering to mask wearing rules, including one incident when a woman was placed in a chokehold by a male police officer. The Force also fined a couple for allowing their child to play further than 5km from their home, while also executing a search warrant against and seizing computers belonging to two men who were planning an anti-lockdown protest.

Also, police have been given the power to enter people’s homes without a warrant and perform quarantine spot checks. Drivers are also being asked to show their papers at highway checkpoints simply to get to work. Anyone caught outside without a mask or violating the 8pm-5am curfew risks being made to pay a large fine.

Apart from the police, the rules are being enforced by Australian Defence Force troops patrolling parks and other outdoor areas.

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