Victoria raises penalties as COVID-19 isolation breaches fail to improve

Victoria raises penalties as COVID-19 isolation breaches fail to improve

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has today announced on-the-spot fines of close to $5,000 for people who breach isolation orders, following "disgraceful" incidents of individuals acting like they were above the law.

Last week the Premier noted COVID-19 cases were not at home for one in four doorknocks, or 130 out of 500 occasions. The latest figures show no signs of improvement.

"I can confirm that the ADF (Australian Defence Force) together with important authorised officers from the Department of Health and Human Services have conducted more than 3,000 doorknocks of people who should be isolating at home," Andrews said.

"[In] more than 800 of those homes the person who should have been isolating could not be found."

This ongoing trend was confirmed after another deadly 24 hours for the state with 11 deaths and 439 new cases. There are currently 456 Victorians in hospital, of whom 38 are receiving intensive care.

Because of these troubling compliance numbers the government has also put new rules in place that exercise outside the home is not allowed for people under isolation orders.

"Fresh air at the front door, fresh air in your front yard or your backyard, or opening a window, that's what you're going to have to do," he said.

"I apologise to those who were doing the right thing, but we simply have no choice but to move to that setting.

"Anything short of a massive reduction in movement across the community will mean more virus, not less, more restrictions, not less, and the other side of this will be further away than it has ever been."

Police Minister Lisa Neville and Chief Commissioner Shane Patton (pictured) revealed instances of Victorians not only flouting health directives but acting violently.

"Last night a 26-year-old police woman was on patrol with another partner down in the Frankston area near a Bayside shopping centre. During that time they approached a 38-year-old woman who wasn't wearing a mask," Commissioner Patton said.

"After a confrontation and being assaulted by that woman, those police officers went to ground and there was a scuffle, and during that scuffle this 38-year-old woman smashed the head of the police woman several times into a concrete area on the ground.

"That behaviour is just totally unacceptable. That's someone who thinks they're above the law."

Patton described an emergence of self-described "sovereign citizens" who don't believe the law applies to them.

"We've seen them at checkpoints baiting police, not providing a name and address," he said.

"On at least three or four occasions in the past week we've had to smash the windows of people in cars and pull them out of there so that they could provide their details, because they weren't telling us where they were going."

Not wearing a mask carries a fine of $200, although Premier Andrews said not too many of those fines have needed to be issued to date.

However, he said if particularly selfish behaviour is encountered like going to work when you have the virus, then there was an alternative pathway of the Magistrates Court where the maximum penalty can be $20,000.

"We don't want it to come to that. We want people to be where they're supposed to be," he said.

More than 500 additional ADF personnel will arrive in Melbourne in the coming days, and they will be accompanied by more than 300 additional authorised officers from the health department to undertake random and repeat checks.

Updated at 12:05pm AEST on 4 August 2020.

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