There has been much talk and protest about whether a government can compel it citizens to stay at home and if allowed to venture outside make wearing a face mask mandatory.
The short answer is YES if there is a great good to be had. In the case of Covid-19 the great good is stopping the spread of the disease across the population. And of course, as I set out in a previous BLOG the measures taken must be reasonable and proportionate.
Now, can a government make citizens wear monitoring devices that track their each and every movement over time? Again the answer is a resounding YES.
In the present Covid- 19 quarantine restrictions, section 70A Emergency Management Act 2005 (EMA) provides for the electronic monitoring of individuals.
Under section 70A(2) EMA “The State Emergency Coordinator may direct that a person is to be subject to electronic monitoring while the person is in quarantine if satisfied that it is necessary to monitor the location of the person during the quarantine period.”
Electronic Monitoring While on Parole
Electronic monitoring is nothing new. A parole board may impose restrictions as to where and when a parolee is allowed to travel. In the present Covid-19 climate individuals who repeatedly breach quarantine restrictions are in the eyes of the authority’s ideal candidates.
Civil Liberty and Ethical Questions Raised
Obviously constant monitoring of an individual raises serious civil liberty and ethical questions. Criminal lawyers and civil libertarians would be the first to jump up and shout foul if electronic monitoring was applied without thought.
In the present Covid-19 climate monitoring recalcitrant repeat offenders is warranted. I’m almost certain those that have lost loved ones due to Covid-19 and the greater populace who don’t want Covid-19 all agree.