Australia

Melbourne residents face $5,000 fine if caught trying to sneak into regional Victoria

Melburnians will be slugged almost $5,000 if caught trying to sneak into regional Victoria under a tough new COVID-19 penalty, as authorities build a “ring of steel” around the city.

Victoria Police will crack down on regional travel, with coronavirus restrictions wound back outside of Melbourne at midnight on Wednesday.

The $4,957 fine will apply to any adult who tries to travel out of the city without a lawful excuse.

Permitted reasons include work, medical care and care-giving.

Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent said the fine was designed to deter people from Melbourne attempting to run the gauntlet as rules ease ahead of school holidays.

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

“We don’t want the virus to spread again.”

Police will be stopping more vehicles at roadblocks out of the city, inevitably leading to long delays.

“We’ll be checking every vehicle that is towing a caravan, a camper trailer or towing a boat or a jet ski, or that has a surfboard or fishing rods,” he said.

Regional Victorians will still be able to travel through Melbourne to reach other parts of the state.

A new checkpoint will be established on the way to the Mornington Peninsula, a spot where many Melbourne residents have holiday homes.

It will be randomly moved as there are multiple access roads into the coastal area.

Daniel Andrews described the new measures as a “ring of steel” aimed at protecting the regions.

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As the Mornington Peninsula falls within metropolitan Melbourne’s bounds, those caught without a lawful travel reason will only face the regular $1,652 fine.

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Bus and rail depots will have also more officers on the ground, while back roads will be monitored by highway patrol cars and occasional pop-up roadblocks.

Mr Nugent warned would-be holiday makers they could expect to be questioned by police if they somehow managed to slip through.

“It’s when you set up, it’s when you’re out there that we’ll be knocking on your door,” Mr Nugent said.

“And if you’ve got two parents in a car, that’s a $10,000 fine.”

Premier Daniel Andrews described the new fine and beefed-up border safeguards as a “ring of steel”.

“We’ve got to be inflexible on this,” he said.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure the virus is not travelling into regional Victoria from people who have no lawful reason to be in regional Victoria.”

Metropolitan Melbourne residents are subject to Stage 4 restrictions and must comply with a curfew between the hours of 9pm and 5am. During the curfew, people in Melbourne can only leave their house for work, and essential health, care or safety reasons. 

Between 5am and 9pm, people in Melbourne can leave the home for exercise, to shop for necessary goods and services, for work, for health care, or to care for a sick or elderly relative. The full list of restrictions can be found here.

All Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home, no matter where they live.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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