Australians are still ignoring COVID-19 restrictions, with more than $800,000 worth of fines being handed out across the country in just a 24-hour period.
Police officers are out in force this weekend to crack down on social distancing offenders during the Easter holiday.
Most seem to have heeded the advice of the government, with usually-busy holiday spots being largely empty.
But in Victoria and Queensland alone, more than 580 infringements were issued to residents found blatantly breaching public health orders.
A man is handcuffed on Bondi Beach on Saturday morning
Police officers are conducting checks at the Queensland-NSW border,after tighter restrictions came into force overnight
COVID-19 rules vary from state to state, but the general advice has been for Australians not to leave their homes unless it is absolutely necessary
The fines for each state for people who breach public health orders or ministerial directions
Victoria police confirmed 183 people were slapped with a $1,652 fine for breaching public health orders in the 24 hours to 11am on Saturday.
Among those fined were four women caught partying at a short-term rental property and seven mates drinking at a schoolyard.
Multiple people were fined over gatherings at their homes.
Officers have conducted nearly 20,000 spot checks since March 21 at homes, businesses and non-essential services.
A five-day operation is underway to enforce safety on the state’s roads over Easter and have the added task of nabbing non-essential travellers.
COVID-19 rules vary from state to state, but the general advice for all Australians has been to not leave their homes unless it is for essential travel, including to buy food and to exercise.
Police officers are out in force this weekend to crack down on social distancing offenders during the Easter holiday (pictured: officers speaking to bystanders)
Queenslanders entering the state must have an amber or red pass, the latter indicating they are returning from one of the 13 COVID-19 hot spots declared by the state government
The crack down has extended to other parts of the country, with fears city residents are using the Easter break to travel to rural communities.
In Queensland, more than 400 fines for coronavirus-related offences were handed out, raking in more than half a million dollars for the state government.
Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said the majority of people had been compliant and officers took people on their word and also showed compassion before issuing a $1,334 fine.
‘However, we have issued over 400 penalty infringement notices,’ Ms Carroll said on Saturday.
‘Most people are doing the right thing, but if there is blatant disregard, and there has been many examples of that, people will be issued with an infringement notice.’
Not only are police busy handing out fines, they are also patrolling the NSW-Queensland border and vehicles travelling southbound on the M1 to the Gold Coast after tighter restrictions came into force overnight.
The new 14-day isolation period for Queenslanders means those returning to the state will require a new pass and exemptions to strict coronavirus regulations to get home.
Crowds gathered at popular hotspots across Sydney as residents stepped out for a stroll
A Queensland Policeman (right) is seen moving people on from the beach at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast, Friday, April 10
Previous passes issued by the state government have been voided.
Queenslanders entering the state must have an amber or red pass, the latter indicating they are returning from one of the 13 COVID-19 hot spots declared by the state government.
Exemptions apply for freight and commercial vehicles.
‘There has been a dramatic change and every individual must have a pass,’ Ms Carroll said.
‘If you have a red pass, as has happened to two people, you will be put into self-isolation.’
She said from her experience, having driven past the Gold Coast beachfront this morning, people were adhering to social distancing rules.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 6,283
New South Wales: 2,857
South Australia: 428
Western Australia: 506
Australian Capital Territory: 103
Northern Territory: 28
TOTAL CASES: 6,283
Three beaches were closed on the Gold Coast, at Coolangatta, The Spit and Surfers Paradise, and they were being policed both physically and through the use of drones.
‘People are out there going for a swim or having that walk but we are not seeing people loitering, lingering or hanging around in groups,’ she said
Gold Coast District’s Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said they had intercepted 200 vehicles over the past couple of days heading south on the M1.
‘We have been very targeted with our interceptions … and we have had to turn 11 vehicles around containing 19 people. They had no reason to be travelling to the Gold Coast,’ Mr Wheeler said.
‘No infringement notices have been issued.’
Meanwhile in New South Wales, Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys confirmed on Friday that almost 50 residents across the state had been slapped with a $1,000 fine.
Mr Worboys said while most people in NSW were following the rules, it was disappointing to issue $50,000 worth of fines.
A number of beaches have been closed across the country after people continued to ignore social distancing rules
‘Here we are at the start of Easter. Right around this state, police are reporting that there’s a good deal of consideration and compliance with those requests around not travelling, social distancing,’ he said on Friday.
‘But it’s also disappointing, in the same time, to say that in the last 24 hours nearly 50 people have been issued infringement notices for $1,000.
‘Those people who just failed to get the severity of the situation that we face in these last few months and days.’
Police in Western Australia have also been ordered to issue on-the-spot fines to people ignoring social distancing, with photos emerging of packed beaches on Good Friday.
WA Police praised beachgoers who hit the waves and were mindful of social distancing measures.
‘The overwhelming majority of people attending the beaches were consciously following the advice about maintaining appropriate distances,’ they said in a statement.
SOCIAL DISTANCING LAWS EXPLAINED STATE-BY-STATE: HOW TO AVOID GETTING CAUGHT OUT
Gatherings are restricted to two people, with residents only allowed out of their homes for a few essential reasons.
This includes buying food or essential goods, getting a medical treatment or engaging in physical exercise.
You can also visit a terminally ill relative or attend a funeral.
Students are also allowed to attend childcare, school, college or university.
From April 3, the state’s borders will be closed to everyone except residents and essential workers.
New South Wales
NSW officials are also enforcing the two-person limit, with residents legally obliged to stay at home unless they have a ‘reasonable excuse’.
This includes travelling to work or school, buying food or other essentials, exercise and medical reasons.
It is left up to police officers to decide who will get the fines, with the maximum being an $11,000 fine or six months in prison.
The state has also brought in the two-person limit inside and outside the home – not counting people you already live with.
Its chief medical officer Dr Brett Sutton confirmed an exception would made for people visiting their boyfriend or girlfriend if they lived separately.
Otherwise, people are allowed to leave the house for one of five reasons – shopping for food, work and education, care reasons, exercise or other extenuating circumstances.
Australian Capital Territory
The ACT is also enforcing the two-person limit, but people are allowed up to two guests inside their homes – only if there is at least four square metres per person.
It also only allows people to leave home for essential reasons, including shopping for essentials, medical reasons, exercise, work or study.
Offenders are being issue with warnings, but may get a fine if they are found to be breaking the rules again.
As well as closing its borders to non-residents, WA has also introduced fines for people who cross out of their region.
Nine regions have been carved up, and people cannot move between them for anything but an essential reason.
This includes going to work, medical appointments, school or other types of education.
Drivers are also allowed to transport freight, and people can go to a shop outside of their area if the essentials are not available closer to home.
In NT, police are still enforcing a 10-person limit rather than just two people.
But chief minister Michael Gunner warned it may take further action if people don’t stick to the rules.
All non-essential arrivals in the state must self-quarantine for 14 days, and people are not allowed to visit remote communities.
Tasmania also has brought into law the two-person limit, with residents only allowed to leave home for essential reasons.
This includes shopping, exercising, and going to healthcare apppointments.
Going to a vet is also allowed, as is going to school or caring for another person.
Arrivals must self-isolate for 14 days.
SA has also stuck to the 10-person limit, with $1,000 on-the-spot fines for people who have a larger group.
Again, all arrivals into the state must self-isolate for 14 days.