By Luke Voogt
Melburnians who try to sneak into Geelong and regional Victoria to take advantage of eased restrictions now face fines of almost $5,000.
Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent yesterday announced a new $4,957 fine for people leaving Melbourne without a permitted reason, which came into effect today.
“That is a huge fine,” he told a press conference.
“And if it’s more than one person – if it’s mum and dad – mum and dad both get the fine.
“So that’s close to [a] $10,000 fine. Not only will they be fined, they will also be sent home.”
Deputy Commissioner Nugent warned police would set up more vehicle checkpoints and check more vehicles to prevent coronavirus spreading from Melbourne.
“We need to do all we can to ensure people from [Melbourne] do not travel to these areas,” he said.
His warning came as regional Victoria moved into the third step of state government’s reopening roadmap today, allowing travel and camping.
The third step also allows the reopening of cafes, pubs and some other venues in regional Victoria.
“With the easing of restrictions and school holidays, there is a risk that people from [Melbourne] will travel to regional and rural areas,” he said.
“There is the potential for them to travel for camping, caravanning, to cafes, restaurants and bars that they can’t … attend here in Melbourne … to hairdressers and the beauty salons, or to other retail outlets that may open that might not be open here.
“We will be highly-visible and active to prevent people from entering the regional and rural areas, particularly during the school holidays.
“Certainly, we will be checking every vehicle that is towing a caravan, a camper trailer or other trailer, towing a boat or jetski, or that has a surfboard, fishing rods or swags.”
Deputy Commissioner Nugent stressed the importance of protecting the community and catching people “deliberately, blatantly breaching the restrictions”.
“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.”