Police threaten Melbourne residents with $5,000 fine for visiting regional Victoria when coronavirus restrictions ease

A police officer wearing a mask checks a permit being held by a driver at a check-point on a highway.
Police check a permit held by a driver leaving Melbourne, ahead of restrictions easing in regional Victoria from midnight.(ABC News: Patrick Rocca)

Melbourne residents who try to sneak into regional Victoria to enjoy the relaxing of restrictions in the country have been warned they face fines of almost $5,000.

Regional Victoria’s pubs, cafes, hair salons and caravan parks will be among the venues reopening from tomorrow, and there will no longer be restriction on people leaving their homes.

Victoria Police’s deputy commissioner of regional operations, Rick Nugent, said police would introduce a new offence to deter people from trying to leave Melbourne without a permitted reason.

“We have been advised the fine for that offence will be $4,957,” he said.

 

“So that is quite a significant fine, and clearly aimed to deter people from the Melbourne metropolitan areas from attending these regional and rural areas.”

Deputy Commissioner Nugent said police would be highly active and working hard to keep Melbourne residents from regional Victoria, particularly during the school holidays.

“We do not want regional and rural communities to be put at risk by Melbourne metropolitan people,” he said.

“We don’t want the virus to spread again in these rural areas, we want to maintain the restrictions and continue to ease them.”

Cars line up at a police check point on the Princes Highway.
Melbourne residents are being warned not to try and travel to regional Victoria when restrictions ease there.(ABC News: Patrick Rocca)

Extra police checks and delays at regional borders

Deputy Commissioner Nugent said police would particularly focus on drivers who looked like they were going on a holiday.

He warned motorists there would be delays at checkpoints.

Police will also establish extra checkpoints on the way to the Mornington Peninsula, which remains under the same restrictions as Melbourne, to make sure other Melbourne residents don’t try to head there for a break during the school holidays.

“Additional enforcement will be supported by more pop-up and random checkpoints on the back roads,” he said.

Police will also increase checks on bus and train services.

Local police told to protect their communities from Melbourne travellers

Deputy Commissioner Nugent said rural communities did not want visitors from Melbourne.

Police in regional Victoria will also do checks at boat ramps, caravan parks, state parks and pubs and clubs for residents from Melbourne, and will check number plates to see where a car is registered to.

“The people who are found to be found breaching will be issued with a $4,957 fine, that is a huge fine,” Deputy Commissioner Nugent said.

“If there is more than one person, if it is mum and dad, mum and dad both get the fine, so that is close to a $10,000 fine.”

Police will also send any Melbourne residents found in regional Victoria without permission back home.

 


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