News Coronavirus Virus cases rise as police told to use ‘discretion’ on social distancing fines

Virus cases rise as police told to use ‘discretion’ on social distancing fines

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The Cedar Meats coronavirus cluster has hit 88 cases. Photo: Getty
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The number of coronavirus cases in Victoria has risen by seven, as Victoria Police has instructed officers to use a “heightened level of discretion” in issuing fines under the state’s eased restrictions.

The current stage of restrictions took effect on Wednesday morning and allows Victorians to host up to five visitors in their homes and gather outside in groups of 10, provided physical distancing is maintained.

Jobs Minister Martin Pakula announced the latest cases at a media conference to outline the details of a $150 million support package for the state’s sport, tourism and creative industries.

He said three cases that were previously under investigation had been found to be linked to the outbreak at the Cedar Meats Australia abattoir in Melbourne’s west, taking that cluster of cases to 88.

All three of the cases added to the cluster were close contacts of Cedar Meats Australia workers.

The Department of Health and Human Services also confirmed one poultry worker had tested positive to the virus.

“There is one isolated case of a worker in a poultry processing facility who has returned a positive test,” a DHHS spokesperson said.

“Comprehensive testing and contact tracing of the facility is underway and no further cases have been found.”

The state’s death toll remains at 18, with six COVID-19 patients in intensive care and 110 active cases across Victoria.

Police issued just two fines on Tuesday for breaches of coronavirus restrictions, after officers were instructed on Monday to seek the approval of a supervisor before issuing fines.

“Victoria Police recognises there may be some genuine ambiguity from the community and police members alike regarding the interpretation of the new directions,” a Victoria Police spokesperson said.

“This new process will assist in providing a fair and balanced approach to all breaches and ensure accuracy in offence determination.

“It also ensures a heightened level of discretion is used by police while these changes are being understood by the community.”