Health minister issues an urgent plea to Australians this Easter – as police ramp up their patrols at beaches, churches and family gatherings
- Australia’s health minister said social distancing needs to be kept up over Easter
- Police in each state and territory have been empowered to hand out fines
- Authorities have warned patrols will be stepped up to catch rule breakers
The federal Health Minister has warned Australians it is vital to follow social distancing restrictions over the Easter weekend.
‘This, in many ways, is the most important weekend we may face in the whole course of the virus,’ Greg Hunt said on Thursday.
The country has seen the rate of coronavirus infections drop in recent days to the point where we have seen less than 100 new cases in 24 for the first time in three weeks,
Two police officers patrol along Cottesloe Beach in Perth, Australia, 10 April 2020 keeping an eye out for social distancing rule breakers
International arrivals at the Sofitel in the Sydney CBD with police escorting them to their 14-day quarantine on April 10
However, in an effort to prevent a resurgence in infections, state authorities will be out in force cracking down social distancing rule breakers during the four-day religious holiday.
‘As we go into Easter with welcome news for Australia, the virus does not take a holiday, therefore none of us can relax what we do,’ Mr Hunt said.
‘If we can lock in the gains that we’ve made as a nation through the courage and sacrifice of those on the health, medical and policing frontlines, but also through the immense goodwill and discipline of Australians, then we can help really protect Australian lives going forward and give ourselves the pathway through.’
Australia has seen more than 6,000 cases of coronavirus with about half recovered
States and territories have brought in fines for social distancing rule breakers
Police have the ability to fine people who visit the beach, travel interstate, attend church services, and even hold family gatherings.
Enforcing federal government guidelines on prohibiting gatherings larger than two people fall onto state governments.
Each state and territory has quickly passed the policies into law – imposing fines and penalties for those who break restrictions.
Police have said they are using foot patrols, helicopters, and number plate recognition technology to catch out those flouting the rules.
‘You can’t go to an Airbnb, you can’t camp, you can’t caravan, you can’t boat, you can’t fish. Those are very clear rules,’ Victoria’s police minister Lis Neville said.
‘You can’t catch up with friends or family that don’t currently live with you,’ she added.
Queensland has gone a step further by closing it’s borders to anyone who does not hold a resident’s permit.
However, some holiday-makers on the Gold Coast are not taking the situation seriously with police saying people were out sunbaking and congregating on the regions beaches.
New South Wales, meanwhile, has brought in additional fines this week for people who deliberately spit or cough on frontline workers such as police or ambulance officers.
Police around the country have already handed out hundreds of fines in the last few days for lockdown rule breakers.
The federal Health Minister has warned Australians it is vital to follow social distancing restrictions over the Easter weekend