A clip of Sunrise host Natalie Barr and her guests has gone viral online, with some users claiming their discussion of Western Australia’s tough ban on unvaccinated parents visiting their sick kids in hospital as “sickening”.
Barr was discussing the new rule that came into effect on January 31 with Perth Lord Mayor and broadcaster Basil Zempilas and Herald Sun columnist Susie O’Brien.
WA Premier Mark McGowan, who has previously promised he would make life “very difficult” for those continuing to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine, announced on Friday that unvaccinated parents must apply for a special exemption to visit their sick, hospitalised children.
— Andrew Bogut (@andrewbogut) February 1, 2022
The government said “medical exemptions” would be supported on compassionate grounds, such as end-of-life visits.
“We know one thing the Premiers and the Prime Minister have been united on is the need to get vaccinated, so it becomes the ultimate test, doesn’t it?” Zempilas said of the rule in the widely-shared clip.
“If you’re unvaccinated and you’re going to what’s deemed a high-risk area – a hospital or an aged care facility – the ability to go and see your loved one if you’re unvaccinated may well be taken away from you. Could that be the trigger to make you change your mind? I guess that’s the force at play here. It’s a tough decision, isn’t it?
“What would a parent do, confronted by that, would it make you change your philosophy? Maybe it would, and maybe that’s what the government are banking on.”
O’Brien said she was “all for” the rule, noting that it was in the best interest of kids and those in aged care who are more at risk of severe illness from Covid.
“I mean, this is not about the rights of parents, this is about the rights of the sick kids and the rights of the elderly to stay as safe as possible at a time when we know we’re dealing with a very virulent strain of the disease,” she said.
“If you’re unvaccinated without a good reason, without a valid exemption, then you are going to find your movements curtailed,” she continued.
“We went through this in Victoria months ago where even 12-year-olds couldn’t attend their own primary school graduations, until the rules were relaxed. So I think this is what the government needs to do at this point, to really shock and challenge people into it, as Basil was saying, change their philosophy, change their action and get vaccinated.”
Barr agreed with her guests, adding that this wasn’t the first time these kinds of rules had been used.
“Other states have had various forms of this – and people have had time,” she said.
“I mean, really.”
The clip of their discussion was shared to Twitter by conservative website Caldron Pool on Monday, where it has been viewed almost 600,000 times.
Former basketball star Andrew Bogut, who is also an outspoken critic of the Australian government’s COVID-19 policies, described the clip as “sickening”.
Another person commented, “This is a dangerous road we are headed down, with the cheering on and normalisation of government coercion.”
Much of the outcry has come from users in the US, where conservatives have frequently criticised Australia’s responses to the pandemic.
“Disappointing to see a nation lose their humanity,” American health researcher Vinay Prasad wrote.
“These people are INSANE,” said conservative writer Kimberly Morin.
Others have come to the defence of WA’s rule, noting that it is up to hospitals to keep their patients safe.
“Unvaccinated people wandering into a hospital is a recipe for disaster,” one person wrote.
“Hospitals are not a safe place, and they are obligated to maintain the safety of all who enter – patients as well as visitors, vaxxed or not,” another said.
“An unvaxxed visitor represents a person who is most likely to die if infected with Covid, and this makes the hospital culpable.”
This article first appeared on OverSixty.