Victorians have been fined for leaving home to play Pokemon Go and for refusing to leave a KFC outlet, as police crack down on breaches of virus restrictions across Melbourne.
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent said police had checked thousands of homes, businesses and public places since the city and a neighbouring local government area returned to stage three lockdown last week.
Already, 351 people have been fined for breaking rules, including a group fined for playing Pokemon Go in their car and a man who was determined to enjoy his KFC dine-in.
“The reasons for leaving your premises are well known. I can say that they don’t include playing Pokemon,” Mr Nugent said on Wednesday.
“Clearly KFC is popular during the lockdown.”
Last Friday, police fined a group of 16 party-goers a total of $26,000 for flouting Victoria’s COVID restrictions after a late-night dash for bucketloads of KFC.
Forty fines have been issued to people visiting massage parlours and brothels, while parties and social gatherings also remain a concern.
In the past 24 hours 63 fines were handed out.
They included 10 people in a driveway with stools set up around a gas heater drinking alcohol, who told police they were social distancing therefore not breaking any rules. All were fined.
“The most common reason is going to visit family and friends or associates for overnight stays,” Mr Nugent said.
He said police had even resorted to searching cupboards and garages for people who did not comply with the restrictions.
Police were also called to one party twice. They issued 10 infringements on the first call, only to be called back again – when they issued 24 more.
More than 150 fines have been handed out at vehicle checkpoints across Melbourne, with 85,000 cars checked. Hundreds of Australian Defence Force personnel are bolstering Victoria Police numbers at checkpoints on many of Melbourne’s main arterial roads.
On Wednesday, another 238 COVID cases were confirmed in Victoria, as well as the death of a woman in her 90s.
Victoria has had 10 days of triple-digit increases in coronavirus cases, and five COVID-related deaths since Saturday.
Of particular concern is the leap in the number of people in hospital – up to 105, with 27 in intensive care – and the cases spreading across aged-care facilities.
Premier Daniel Andrews said “time for cutting slack is over” and restrictions could tighten further if people did not follow the rules.
“How long restrictions are, the nature of those restrictions, how many people have to go to hospital, how many people are in intensive care and how many people ultimately die – that is all the product of how hard we all work,” he said.
However, chief health officer Brett Sutton quashed rumours the state will head into a stage four lockdown within days.
“Any consideration about what stage four might look like if it were to be in place is again to be based on the epidemiology,” he said.