News State Victoria News Melbourne’s Stage 4 virus rules tweaked as case numbers keep falling

Melbourne’s Stage 4 virus rules tweaked as case numbers keep falling

victoria 5km exercise
Melburnians are heading towards the middle mark in six weeks of tough virus measures. Photo: Getty
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The tough Stage 4 measures governing the lives of Melburnians have been tweaked as coronavirus cases continue to fall.

The rule banning residents from driving to exercise, even if it is within the permitted five kilometres of their home, was dumped on Wednesday afternoon.

Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton had said earlier he would discuss the controversial rule with Victoria Police, following a backlash.

Police had earlier issued a public warning about the rule, which prompted Melburnians to vent their anger at what they considered an unnecessary restriction, even amid Victoria’s second wave of coronavirus.

Police said they understood the anger but had to enforce the CHO’s directions.

Those caught flouting the rule had faced $1652 on-the-spot fines.

Victoria’s daily coronavirus infections fell again on Wednesday, with 216 new cases and a further 12 fatalities.

It is the fourth day the state’s new cases have been below 300 – with 279 last Sunday, 282 on Monday and 222 on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s figure was the lowest in a month, Wednesday’s the lowest since July 13.

All of the 12 deaths confirmed on Wednesday were linked to aged care. They were five men and seven women, aged from their 70s to their 90s. 

Victoria’s virus death toll is 363, and the national toll is 450.

Elsewhere, Victoria Police revealed on Wednesday that 42 fines had been issued from more than 29,000 spot checks on people directed to self-isolate.

Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed on August 4 that of 3000 recent doorknocks on people who should have been self-isolating at home, 800 could not be found.

It prompted the government to crack down on compliance, beefing up fines to $4957 and banning exercise for those self-isolating.

But on Wednesday, Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent agreed fewer than one in four were actually guilty of breaches.

“Some of them were in the shower when you knocked on the door, some of them in the shed at the back, building something,” he said. “They’re not all necessarily out of their home.”

Under the state’s compliance system, the Australian Defence Force and authorised officers refer potential self-isolation breaches to Victoria Police if doorknocks go unanswered twice.

Mr Nugent said 98 of 444 potential self-isolation breach cases referred to police were still under investigation.

Most of those probed were eventually found isolating but others were originally classified not home due to providing incorrect or outdated address details or leaving their home for permitted reasons.

Of the 42 people slapped with penalty notices, 26 copped the $1652 fine while 16 received the new $4957 penalty.

Among their excuses were going shopping or walking, but some said they didn’t know they had to self-isolate despite testing positive.

Meanwhile, a woman has claimed a swooping bird distracted her from wearing a mask.

She was one of 154 people fined by police in the past 24 hours for rule breaches.

Police said on Wednesday the woman was sighted walking along Spencer Street in Melbourne’s CBD without a mask.

When questioned, she said she had been smoking when a bird swooped her associate’s hamburger, distracting her momentarily before she resumed smoking.

The excuse didn’t wash with officers, who handed her a $200 fine for failing to wear a mask, one of 19 issued on Tuesday.

Some 35 people were fined for breaching metropolitan Melbourne’s 8pm-5am curfew, including a man and woman from separate Darebin residences driving together to withdraw money from an ATM.

Another man was discovered travelling from Melbourne to Geelong to go fishing, but caught a fine instead.

The deputy commissioner praised the majority of Victorians for doing the right thing but said an average of 200 fines per day showed there were still plenty of “idiots”.

-with AAP