Public praised for behaviour over Easter weekend

Michelle Slater

Police are praising the behaviour of Latrobe Valley residents over the Easter long weekend for complying with coronavirus restrictions ordered by the Victorian Chief Health Officer.

Morwell pandemic coordinator Acting Senior Sergeant Craig van Bruegel said a relatively low number of fines were issued in comparison to the amount of checks police made to ensure people complied with the restrictions.

He said police had issued 25 COVID-19 infringement notices in the Latrobe Valley from Good Friday to Tuesday.

Police have handed out with 76 fines across the Baw Baw, South Gippsland, Bass Coast and Latrobe City policing areas since April 1.

“Traffic conditions were slow and quiet, there were not a lot of people on the roads, people by and large are getting the message,” Act Snr Sgt van Bruegel said.

“The vast majority of people in the community are being sensible and complying with the restrictions, this is terrific. We will have some exceptions to this, but we are enforcing it.”

Act Snr Sgt van Bruegel said the majority of fines were handed out for groups of people in the same vehicle, including one carrying five people who were not from the same household.

He said other fines were issued for people gathering in groups or holding parties in private residences, as well as one person who had camping gear in their vehicle.

“There’s been a number of people driving around together in groups to get out of the house. People have to change their mindset, they need to stay home instead of looking for loopholes,” he said.

“If you are blatantly disregarding the restrictions or are in any breach of the law, police will be there to enforce. We are in this for the long haul.”

Act Snr Sgt van Bruegel warned the community that Victoria Police had dedicated task force units out in force across the state.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton stated on Tuesday he would review COVID-19 fines amid confusion over how some had been issued.

This includes one Traralgon couple who were fined for posting a year-old photo of their Lakes Entrance holiday on social media.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said this incident had been reviewed and the infringement notice would be withdrawn.

“On occasion, errors will be made however that is why a review process exists to ensure instances such as these are identified and rectified,” the spokeswoman said.

Across Victoria, police conducted 824 spot checks at homes, businesses and non-essential services, and issued 52 fines in the 24 hours from Monday to Tuesday.

Victoria Police has conducted a total of 21,757 spot checks since March 21.