Friday, September 25, 2020

Police patrol Mildura with added powers

MILDURA police are warning residents to avoid becoming complacent during lockdown, with additional powers being given to patrols for COVID-19 breaches.

Superintendent Rebecca Olsen said the measures were about protecting the community by continuing to stop the spread of the disease.

"We may be sitting on zero COVID-positive community members, but so were others," Supt Olsen said.

"Recently we have seen regional towns not dissimilar to ours impacted by COVID clusters and the impact on their community will be longstanding."

Local patrols will increase the police presence and visibility across Sunraysia in line with the second lockdown, which begins on Thursday, and other COVID-19 measures.

"We will be increasing our Sentinel patrols, returning to an increased visible police presence and attendance dealing with gatherings in both private and public places and spaces," Supt Olsen said.

"Our community has been in this position previously, as have our members, and this time should be acutely aware of what we are all required to do with stage 3 stay-at-home restrictions."

Since a state of disaster was declared in Victoria on Sunday, police have had additional powers to ensure residents complied with public health directions.

"These powers for regional areas are currently being ratified but already police have the powers to enforce all restrictions that are in place, along with DHHS, ADF officers," Supt Olsen said.

"This includes the wearing of masks (unless an exemption exists) the numbers in gatherings and the reasons for being outside your home."

With all Victorians now required to wear face coverings to stop the spread of the virus, Supt Olsen said police would not hesitate to issue fines to people repeatedly breaching the Chief Health Officer's direction.

"The wearing of masks has added an additional compliance responsibility for us across the state, and of course locally.

"There will be discretion and warnings issued but for those that continue to flout the rules and that don't hold a current exemption, they will be issued with a $200 penalty notice."

In NSW, about 100 additional police and 100 defence force personnel continue patrolling the region's four border crossings, the mostly Sydney-based officers being swapped out every five days.

Dareton Inspector Darren Brand said the out-of-towners had been overwhelmed by the support of the community and said the majority of travellers through border points were doing the right thing.

He said just two fines had been issued since the checkpoints were established five weeks ago.

"Last week those people were travelling together from Robinvale and attempted to get into NSW through the checkpoint at Euston," Insp Brand said.

He said they lacked the requisite permits, were each issued a $1000 infringement notice and sent back to Victoria.

"The response from the Sunraysia community has been really positive, and where people have made honest mistakes in relation to the permits, police have been able to assist them at the checkpoints to ensure they're able to continue on."

"In other instances, where people have not attempted to obtain a permit and attempted to cross, we have turned some of them around."