Police COVID-19 operation steps up

POLICE presence will dramatically increase in and around metropolitan Melbourne to ensure Victorians adhere to the lockdown.

As the 32 local government areas fall back under stage three social distancing restrictions, statewide police resources including the Public Order Response Team, Mounted Branch, Highway Patrol and local police will be deployed in an expansion of Operation Sentinel.

The Australian Defence Force has been asked to provide 264 members to help with on-ground operations, focusing on staging areas, planning, logistics and transport.

They will also play a key role in monitoring the boundary around metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.

Booze buses will be deployed to road stops and checkpoints to monitor traffic flow, and police will use Automatic Number Plate Recognition to scan registration details and identify the residential addresses of licence holders.

Victoria Police will also have vehicle checkpoints across the state – including the main arterials to regional Victoria.

Police will continue to make house visits and patrol public places all over Victoria.

From 11.59pm on Wednesday, metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire returned to stage three stay at home restrictions for six weeks.

For Victorians living in these locations, there are now only four reasons to leave their homes – shopping for food and supplies, care and caregiving, exercise, and work or study, if it can’t be done from home.

As of Wednesday, Victoria Police had issued a total of 6314 fines as part of Operation Sentinel.

People who breach the directions face on-thespot fines of $1652 for individuals and $9913 for businesses.

Police are conducting checks at businesses, homes, community locations and non-essential services across the state to ensure directions are being followed.

Operation Ribbon and Operation Shielding remain in place.

The community can continue to report nonurgent crime and events, as well as breaches of the Chief Health Officer’s directives, by phoning the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or submitting an online report.