Large fines and more checkpoints around Greater Shepparton

By Spencer Fowler Steen

Melburnians trying to head to regional Victoria will be slapped with a new $4957 fine, with permanent road blocks set up around the metropolitan area to catch travellers.

The new offence comes into effect from 11.59pm, September 16, as restrictions in regional Victoria are eased.

Deputy Commissioner of Regional Operations Rick Nugent warned Melbournians to stay away from regional Victoria or risk copping a massive fine.

“We don’t want the virus to spread again in these areas,” he said.

“Not only will they be fined they will also be sent home.”

The new offence will not apply to those visiting intimate partners in regional Victoria.

Mr Nugent said police would be strengthening enforcement activities, particularly at the border of regional and rural areas, with longer traffic delays expected.

He said all vehicles with caravans, boats, jet skis, fishing gear or swags would be stopped at border checkpoints.

“Additional enforcement will be supported by more pop-up and random checkpoints on back roads. The state highway patrol will be patrolling those back roads and will use automated number plate recognition to alert us to people from the metropolitan region,” he said.

However, Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum said the measures weren't enough, renewing his call for a Victoria-NSW border-style permit system to ensure regional Victoria was protected.

“An online permit system must urgently be implemented for those who have a critical need to come to regional Victoria,” he said.

“Anyone without a permit must not be allowed to leave Greater Melbourne.

“Anything short of a permit system runs the risk of the virus being brought into the regions as it did in July when Mr (Premier Daniel) Andrews’s so-called ‘ring of steel’ in fact turned out to be nothing more than a ring of marshmallow.”

In addition, Mr Drum said Victoria should not be treated as one entity, where a localised COVID-19 outbreak could cause statewide restrictions.

“That outbreak should be treated with a localised shutdown,” Mr Drum said.