Police Australia wide have started to get tough on people who have chosen to venture outside their homes despite repeated warnings that those who flout coronavirus lockdown rules will be fined.
Social media erupted on Monday after a Victorian learner driver who was trying to get her logbook hours up was slapped with a $1652 fine.
Police found the 17-year-old’s journey was not ‘essential travel’, raising questions about whether the laws have been explained well enough to the general public.
Still, there have also been many instances of people ignoring lockdown instructions from state governments.
Officers aren’t just roaming the streets or knocking on doors to catch people who are flouting the rules.
In Western Australia, authorities have taken the unprecedented step of deploying drones to help enforce public gathering restrictions.
The New Daily has taken a look at each state and territory and how police are enforcing lockdowns.
The number of fines issued by Victoria Police in the 24 hours leading up until 8am on Monday was 108.
That number reached 307 by the afternoon.
Since March 21, officers have conducted a total of 14,275 spot checks at homes, businesses and non-essential services.
There were 983 checks performed on Sunday alone.
A police spokesperson said they were unable to provide any background or breakdowns of data due to the high number of fines and spot checks.
As for the L-plater who copped a hefty fine for being on the road in Melbourne’s south-east with her mother, Victoria Police confirmed with The New Daily that Assistant Commissioner Bob Hill will review the matter to find out “whether discretion could have been used in this instance”.
For those asking – yes – we’ve seen a copy of the actual infringement notice handed yesterday to a 17yo L Plater having a training drive with mum in the rain yesterday. pic.twitter.com/VjZTkNJVni
— Heidi Murphy (@heidimur) April 6, 2020
From Thursday, 200 public service officers will be spread across Melbourne CBD, as well as commercial hubs and suburban areas across greater Melbourne and the regions, including Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo.
They will also continue to patrol the 83 train stations across Victoria, despite lower passenger numbers.
New South Wales
A further 18 coronavirus-related fines were issued at the weekend.
Police confirmed several people had been attending barbecues.
A 21-year-old ignored a swimming ban and then coughed at officers on Bondi Beach. He later tested negative for the coronavirus.
Police are issuing more severe penalties than any other state or territory.
Individuals could face up to six months in jail and/or fined $11,000, plus a $5500-per-day fine if they keep breaking the rules.
For corporations, those fines are $55,000 and $27,500 respectively.
Across the state, police, defence and emergency service personnel have performed more than 5000 checks on people who are in quarantine.
Police have charged at least five people, including three drivers who had their vehicles intercepted due to failure to comply with a direction from the Director of Public Health.
Another 50-year-old man who recently returned to Tasmania from Victoria was charged after refusing to self-isolate.
A further 10 people will be prosecuted for entering a restricted area at an east coast campground.
Australian Capital Territory
An ACT Policing spokesperson said its response to the coronavirus has not moved past stage one.
That means unlike other parts of Australia before police move to warnings and fines, their focus remains on educating people about the new rules.
They’re also only carrying out spot checks when requested by ACT Health.
The Territory Targeting Team is also assisting agencies, including Access Canberra, to conduct business compliance checks.
On April 1, police arrested a 48-year-old man who attempted to cough and spit on officers, claiming he had SARS/COVID-19.
Those completing their 14-day quarantine are being checked regularly by NT Police.
More than 1800 compliance checks have been completed as of Sunday, with help from Public and Environmental Health officers and Australian Defence Force personnel.
So far, just four fines have been issued.
The most recent one was on Saturday.
When police knocked on the door of a 45-year-old woman at Alawa, she was found to be hosting a social gathering at her premises involving 14 people, 10 of whom did not reside there.
One of the residents was in self-quarantine inside the property after returning from interstate.
A 35-year-old man who was meant to self-isolate at a Perth hotel tried to escape his room and even got on public transport to travel within the metropolitan area.
Authorities are using drones fitted with flashing lights and sirens, similar to that of a police vehicle, and capable of broadcasting a message to a range of up to one kilometre.
People breaking social distancing guidelines can be receive an on-the-spot fine of $1000 for individuals and $5000 for businesses.
People arriving in WA who are caught breaching a directive to self-isolate for two weeks face a fine of up to $50,000.
On Saturday night police swarmed a large car rally south of Brisbane, where about 150 vehicles were pulled up in a warehouse car park.
Police issued 58 coronavirus infringements, each worth $1334, totalling $77,372.
Officers can also issue on-the-spot fines of $1334.50 for individuals and $6672.50 for corporations that fail to abide by the health directions.
Police are currently not authorised to enforce lockdown rules, but they are strongly advising that everyone adheres to the two-person rule.
“When the Prime Minister makes recommendations to the states about restriction guidelines relating to COVID-19, each state must then consider how those recommendations will be applied,” the SA government website says.
“They are not enforceable in South Australia until the state co-ordinator, Commissioner Grant Stevens, enacts a direction.”