MELBURNIANS planning to sneak into regional Victoria to take advantage of relaxed restrictions will be slapped with a $4957 fine, under a new offence introduced on Wednesday night.
People who unlawfully travel into regional Victoria will be charged with failure to comply with a requirement to remain in a restricted area, and ordered to return to their principal place of residence.
If a group of metropolitan Melburnians is found in regional Victoria, each person will receive the entire $4957 fine.
That means if a couple is found to be in regional Victoria without a valid reason, the pair will receive close to a $10,000 fine in total.
Deputy Commissioner regional operations Rick Nugent said the risk of Melburnians travelling to regional areas now that country hairdressers, beauty salons, restaurants, cafés and camping areas had reopened posed an increased risk to the health of those in regional Victoria.
“We do not want regional and rural communities to be put at risk by metropolitan Melbourne people,” he said.
“We don’t want the virus to spread again in these rural areas.”
Police will be highly visible and active around the border, including on back roads – particularly during school holidays.
Deputy Commissioner Nugent said up until now, police had been doing all they could to enable a flow and minimise delays at these checkpoints – “that will change”.
“We will be checking every vehicle that is towing a caravan, a camper trailer or other trailer, towing a boat or a jet ski, that has a surfboard, fishing rod or swags – they will all be checked,” he said.
“There will be delays at these vehicle checkpoints, and for that I am sorry, but we need to do all we can to ensure that people from the Melbourne metropolitan area do not travel into these regional and rural areas.
“I know those who are going through are delayed, but by and large – particularly the regional and rural areas – they want us to check everyone, they don’t want people sneaking through and putting people at risk.”
Additional enforcement will include more pop-up and random checkpoints on back roads, and state Highway Patrol, with automated number plate recognition, will be patrolling back roads – not just highways.
Police will also monitor bus and rail depots, to ensure people do not exit Melbourne via public transport.
Local police in regional towns will also be checking vehicles (particularly those towing), caravan parks, state parks, national parks, people attending boat ramps, and checking patrons in pubs and restaurants, amongst other places.
“They’re [local police] the eyes and ears, they know who the locals are, they can check the cars – that is going to absolutely make a difference in identifying people in local areas that shouldn’t be,” the Deputy Commissioner said.
“We all have restriction fatigue, we want to see an end to the restrictions.
“The only way we can do that is by restricting the spread of the virus.”
People are allowed to travel through the border for work, medical care and care-giving.
Those who live in the metropolitan Melbourne area can travel to regional Victoria to buy goods and services, but only if this is the closest location to their house.
People cannot travel outside metropolitan Melbourne for exercise.
People cannot travel to their holiday homes in regional Victoria.
They must remain in their principal place of residence, which is where they were living at 11.59pm on August 1.
Metropolitan Melbourne’s restrictions continue to apply to Melburnians while they are outside metropolitan Melbourne in regional Victoria.
Under the third step, regional Victorians can travel through Melbourne to visit friends and family, holiday, or other activities in other parts of regional Victoria.
Regional Victorians should not stop in Melbourne except to buy necessary goods and services, for care and compassionate reasons or permitted work.