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New eye-watering fine for virus offence

Victoria Police has been equipped with a new offence and an eye-watering fine in the fight to stop coronavirus spreading to regional Victoria.

A new offence of failing to comply with the requirement to remain in a restricted area will come into force from 11.59pm on Wednesday.

It means Melburnians caught trying to flee the city into regional Victoria could be fined almost $5000 for leaving the restricted area without a valid reason.

Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent said police would be highly visible and active to prevent Melburnians from entering country Victoria, particularly during school holidays.

“We do not want regional and rural communities to be put at risk by Melbourne metropolitan people,” Mr Nugent said.

“We don’t want the virus to spread again in these rural areas, we want to maintain the restrictions and continue to ease them.”

Mr Nugent said police would strengthen the enforcement around the metropolitan border, including checking more cars and patrolling back roads with automatic number plate recognition technology.

He said country police would also be very active in protecting their local communities and officers would increase patrols on V/Line trains and buses.

“We will be checking every vehicle that is towing a caravan, camper trailer, other trailer, boat or jetski, or that has a surfboard, fishing rods or swags, they will all be checked,” Mr Nugent said.

“There will be delays at these vehicle checkpoints and for that I’m very sorry, but unfortunately we need to do all we can to ensure that people from the Melbourne metropolitan area do not travel into regional and rural areas.”

Additional floating checkpoints will also be set up on the Mornington Peninsula area – which is within the metropolitan boundary – to stop people travelling to holiday homes with the warmer weather.

Caravan parks and camping grounds, national parks, boat ramps and the vicinity of pubs, bars and restaurant in regional Victoria will also be patrolled by police.

“We all have restriction fatigue, we want to see an end to the restrictions,” Mr Nugent said.

“The only way we can do that is to limit the spread of the virus and abide by the directions of the chief health officer.”

He said some of the valid reasons to travel between Melbourne and regional Victoria were for work, which was the case for 90 per cent of people, medical reasons and to visit an intimate partner.

The fine for being caught leaving metropolitan Melbourne without a reason is $4957.

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