A number’s game: Towards a solution to the policing of ringfenced COVID Hotspots

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Issued addressed: COVID-19 has highlighted the disruptive, cross-sectorial effects a sudden-onset pandemic has on a globally interconnected world. The control of community transmission requires the identification and isolation of hotspots, commonly achieved through blanket measures or through ring-fencing. A simpler and more readily policeable, and geographically more flexible system is needed that allows both law enforcement and the public to detect people moving outside the ringfenced areas.

Methods: A narrative examination of the border closure between New South Wales
and Victoria in June to September 2020.

Results: Enforcement of people's movement in and out of ring-fenced areas relies on voluntary, ethical compliance coupled with legal prosecution of violators. Despite extensive community health promotion for COVID-safe behaviour, the events of 2020
showed multiple, flagrant violations which were caught during random spot checks,
as well as at the Murray River, a hard border set up along readily controllable and
patrollable features (bridges).

Conclusions: Given that most medium and long-distance movement in Australia is vehicular-based, this paper advocates for the introduction of European-style local government area based car registration which makes ‘out of bounds’ vehicle traffic readily recognisable by their number plates.

So what?: Public health promotion, coupled with convenient and ubiquitous observation and enforcement tool, is likely to moderate community behaviour and ensure increased compliance with the directives of health authorities and associated promotion of COVID-safe behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Promotion Journal of Australia
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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