Melburnians will get close to $ 5,000 if caught sneaking out of regional Victoria under a grueling new COVID-19 sentence, as authorities build a ‘ring of steel’ around the city.
The Victoria Police is taking action against regional travel, lifting coronavirus restrictions outside Melbourne on Wednesday at midnight.
The $ 4,957 fine applies to any adult who tries to leave town without legal excuse.
Permitted reasons include work, medical care and care.
Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent said the fine was intended to deter people from Melbourne attempting to run the gauntlet, as the rules relax before school holidays.
“We don’t want regional and rural communities to be endangered by Melbourne’s metropolitan population,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“We don’t want the virus to spread again.”
The police will stop more vehicles at roadblocks outside the city, inevitably leading to long delays.
“We will check any vehicle that is towing a caravan, a camper trailer or a boat or jet ski, or that has a surfboard or fishing rods,” he said.
Regional Victorians will still be able to travel across Melbourne to reach other parts of the state.
On the way to the Mornington Peninsula, a place where many Melbourne residents have holiday homes, there will be a new checkpoint.
It will be moved randomly as there are multiple access roads to the coastal area.
Since the Mornington Peninsula falls within the boundaries of the Melbourne metropolis, those caught without a valid travel reason will only face the regular $ 1,652 fine.
Bus and train depots will also have more cops on the ground, while back roads are guarded by highway patrol cars and occasional pop-up roadblocks.
Mr Nugent warned would-be vacationers that they could expect to be questioned by the police if they somehow slip through.
“We won’t come knocking at your door until you’re done,” said Mr. Nugent.
“And if you have two parents in a car, that’s a $ 10,000 fine.”
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews described the new fine and enhanced boundary safeguards as a “ring of steel”.
“We have to be rigid about this,” he said.
“We are going to do everything we can to ensure that the virus does not enter regional Victoria from people who have no legal reason to be in regional Victoria.”
Metropolitan Melbourne residents are subject to Stage 4 restrictions and must adhere to a curfew between 9:00 PM and 5:00 AM. During curfew, people in Melbourne can only leave their home for work and for essential health, care or safety reasons.
Between 5:00 am and 9:00 pm, people in Melbourne can leave home to exercise, purchase necessary goods and services, work, provide healthcare, or care for a sick or elderly relative. The full list of restrictions can be found here.
All Victorians are required to wear a face covering when they leave home, wherever they live.
People in Australia should stay at least 5 feet away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on collecting limits.
If you have cold or flu symptoms, stay at home and arrange for a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus