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South Dakota's positivity rate is 21.5-times Australia's
Australians and Americans fought alongside each other in the Battle of The Coral sea to defend our mutual way of lives. In May 1942 two US Navy carrier task forces and a joint Australian-American cruiser force halted the Imperial Japanese Navy and derailed the Japanese strategy to invade Australia.
In the battle against COVID, America and Australia no longer share a common view of how to defeat the enemy and preserve our way of life. Australia learns from Japan and is bewildered by America.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally — “a celebration of freedom” according to the organisers — would cost those organisers and the participants $645.28652 million in fines if held in Australia.
That’s before the extra fines for repeat offences and not wearing helmets!
South Dakota is already a red-hot spot compared to Australia
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is held annually in Sturgis, South Dakota for ten days — usually starting the first Friday in August. The highest attendance was 739,000 (2015). In this year of COVID, 250,000 bikers are expected, and thousands arrived in Sturgis over the last weekend.
South Dakota is a red state in more ways than one. It’s a coronavirus hotspot.
Here in Australia, we are in the grip of the second wave of COVID.
But as bad as it is here, US hotspots like South Dakota are off the charts compared to us. Australia's population is 28-times South Dakota:
When it comes to tests, Australia has conducted 5m tests equating to 10% of the population, with a 0.4% positivity rate. South Dakota has conducted 120,000 test, which is 12% of the population, with a positivity rate of 8.6%.
Just in case you blinked and missed it, based on the same rate of testing South Dakota's positivity rate is 21.5-times the positivity rate of Australia.
Down under, prefer life to freedom (at the moment)
Australians would be marching in the streets if our pandemic response was such a chaotic disaster as that of South Dakota. However, ironically Australians are currently prohibited from marching in the streets, or gathering at motorcycle rallies. For that we have to be grateful.
Under Australia's current super-strict COVID rules and regulations here is how the fines would add up to $645.28652 million for the Sturgis freedom riders.
The fines - #1 no masks
For a hotspot state like South Dakota, Australia has compulsory mask orders, with on-the-spot fines of $200.
There are a reported 250,000 Sturgis bikers, so that adds up to $50 million.
Perhaps some bikers are wearing masks, but on the other hand, in Australia people can be charged unlimited times for repeat offences. Sturgis repeat offenders would likely outnumber those wearing masks. So $50m is a modest estimate of the fines.
Fine - $50 million for not wearing masks.
#2 Compulsory isolation after returning from hotspot
People travelling back to their state of residence from a known hotspot must self-quarantine for 14 days in Australia. That is, they must stay at home and not leave home for 14 days. Such people are checked in at the border and have to supply their contact details.
Extensive door-knocking by the police, assisted by the army, reveals that about 1/4 of people here in Australia are not at home when checked.
Of the 250,000 Sturgis freedom riders, it is reasonable to expect a higher rate of delinquency than the 25% here in Australia. Let's say 100,000 out of the 250,000 riders disobey a self-quarantine order.
Those fines would amount to $4,957 per offence. This totals $495.70 million for 100,000 offenders. Conservatively, 10% may re-offend over the 14-day self-quarantine period, which amounts to another $49.57m.
Fine - $495.70 million for not staying in self-quarantine, plus $49.57 million for repeat offenders.
#3 Returning to work while quarantined or positive after test
Fines for returning to work after a positive test, or while in self-isolation, can add up to $20,000 per individual.
Of the 250,000 Sturgis bikers, if only 10,000 chose to do this and wre caught in Australia then the fines would total $50 million.
Fine - $50 million for returning to work early.
#4 Fines for rally organisers
Organisers of rallies, such as anti-mask rallies and BLM rallies, are subject to public health penalties in Australia, with the police arriving at their homes to issue the fines.
The fine is $1652 per person. If ten people were involved in organising the Sturgis rally, then that would amount to $16,520 in fines.
Fine - $16,520 for organising a rally.
COVID penalties in total
For public health violations, the organisers and participants at the Strugis rally would be fined a total of all the above.
This total amounts to $645.28652 million.
#5 Not wearing motorcycle helmets
Motorcycle helmets are compulsory in Australia. No exceptions.
I didn't notice any helmets on the Sturgis riders or passengers. At least, not any that would pass the Australian safety standards.
The fine for the rider is $344, and if with a passenger without a helmet $686. Let's say that 100,000 riders were lone riders, and 150,000 had passengers:
This fine applies multiple times for repeat offences, so the estimate of $137.30 million is conservative for the rally.
Fine - $137.30 million for not wearing helmets.
Total public health and traffic fines
The total fines applicable in Australia for a "Sturgis Rally" amount to $782.58652 million.
Is that draconian? Yes
Are we in Australia sacrificing our freedom? Yes and no. Yes, many of our civil liberties are being infringed.
No, here we can't tolerate a COVID infection rate 21.5-times higher nor daily new cases five times higher, as in South Dakota. We're willing to forgo our "freedoms" in the hope of a better outcome for everyone.
That said, we will have to be extraordinarily vigilant that our civil rights are restored, even if the COVID fines stay in place.
In a year, we'll see which approach delivered the best outcomes for our countries.
Stay safe. Good luck
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