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Unmasking current Tonga restrictions

Nuku'alofa, Tonga


It has finally been said. The current restrictions as part of the Emergency are not directly because of the threat of the COVID-19 virus. Last week Dr. Siale Akau’ola admitted that the restrictions (current ones and probably for the past month) are meant to get us used to what life will be “when” we get the virus. In addition the government is happy that the curfew and limited bar hours have reduced crime and drunk driving.

As there is no virus and we still live under restrictions, what does this mean for the future? As government seems “happy” with the curfew, will a curfew now become part of our daily life?

The curfew does keep people off the streets and at home, but does it really reduce crime? Drug arrests seem to continue with no change. Ned Cook was assaulted and killed last week walking home about 9pm. Are assaults and burglary down? I don’t know.

What curfew also does is keep people from visiting friends and family (you have to leave by 9-9:30pm to make sure you make it home in time). It also inhibits needed social interaction by limiting the hours of restaurants, bars, and kava clubs – all of which give us an outlet and change of pace from other parts of daily life.

Is lifting curfew really bad? Or are we now in a period of moral justification for limiting people’s freedom and thus keeping them closer to family, church, and away from “bad” habits? And are we being diverted from the real social issues in Tonga?

More on that later.

Dean Bishoprick