Coronavirus: Victorians face new $5000 fine for breach

As Victoria winds back coronavirus lockdown rules, Premier Daniel Andrews has introduced an almost $5000 fine for illegal gatherings.

The premier announced on Sunday a list of relaxed restrictions in Victoria, including the end of a 9pm to 5am curfew from Monday, as the state recorded just 16 new infections in the past 24 hours.

“The fine for gatherings – having visitors over to your home, meeting outdoors in big groups – will be increased to the same penalty for travelling into regional Victoria without a valid reason. That is almost $5000,” Mr Andrews said in a statement.

Daniel Andrews at a press conference
Daniel Andrews announced the fine for illegal gatherings in Victoria has increased to $5000. Source: AAP

The premier warned police had the power to do random checks on private homes and would follow up phone calls reporting illegal gatherings.

“If police are out on routine patrol and there are an inordinate amount of cars parked outside your home, there may well be a knock at the door and the penalty – there will be no warnings, no $652 fine – it is almost $5,000,” he reiterated.

Mr Andrews said he understood the need for social connection, but cautioned the home environment was one of the most risky environments for the spread of COVID-19.

"It is how people let their guard down, and there is a degree of informality, there is no distancing, there is not the cleaning at that kind of industrial level, that is when this virus gets away from you and one big family or small family visiting another... does nothing but potentially spread this virus,” he said.

Single parents and those who live alone can have one visitor, who they have nominated in their social bubble, come to their home.

While those who live in groups will only be able to gather with people from outside their homes outdoors.

Pictured are Victoria Police officers at Chadstone Shopping Centre on September 20, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia.
Members of Victoria Police patrol through Melbourne's Chadstone Shopping Centre. Source: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

From 11.59pm on Sunday, groups of up to five people from across a maximum of two households can meet outdoors.

A limit of five including a couple and two witnesses in outdoor spaces will be allowed at weddings, and religious gatherings of up to five people can meet with their faith leader outdoors.

Restrictions on exercise and visiting patients in hospitals have also been eased.

Victoria Police will provide more details on Monday, with the premier stating the tough measures are imperative to continue Victoria’s success in lowering the spread of coronavirus.

“This is a very significant penalty. We don't make this decision lightly but no one has the right to put everything that Victorians have done at risk, and going and potentially spreading the virus, one family to another,” Mr Andrews said.

Victoria had 399 active cases in the state on Sunday, the first time there have been under 400 since June 30.

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