Crossing the fine line: Victoria Police rakes in more than $100,000 in a day

There are no second chances for Victorians who break coronavirus restrictions, with police issuing more than $100,000 in fines in a 24-hour blitz.

In one instance, seven people were slapped with $1652 infringements after police caught them celebrating a 30th birthday party at a home in Caulfield.

The fines were among 119 dished out to Victorians in a 24-hour period ending on Sunday.

Victoria Police also checked 17,133 vehicles at checkpoints on main roads, issuing 51 infringement notices.

Meanwhile, one Victorian couple with an Airbnb booking spoke of their frustration of being slugged with fees for doing the right thing and cancelling reservations.

In a flurry of activity, officers conducted 1086 spot checks on people at homes, businesses and public places across the state.

In one instance, a person was stopped and fined by police when driving back to Melbourne after inspecting two rural properties by appointment with a real estate agent, according to COVID policing.

New data from SA Police reveals 1348 people crossed the border from Victoria between midnight on Wednesday, when the six-week lockdown began, until Saturday.

Of those, 1126 were deemed essential travellers.

On July 2, before the renewed lockdown was introduced, two Victorian men were caught and fined by South Australian police for allegedly trying to sneak over the border without a permit.

The pair were stopped at a checkpoint on the Dukes Highway around 4am, and promised police they would return home.

But 12 hours later, police found their van bogged on a dirt road near Pinehill Road with the same two men.

Police allege the pair had briefly returned to Victoria before circling back and trying to re-enter South Australia via backroads.

Meanwhile, Krispy Kreme Australia is in police sights after customers began queuing for a giveaway of 420,000 free doughnuts across Australia.

Pictures posted to social media on Monday showed long lines of people ignoring social-distancing.

“This is nonsensical and defies logic,” NSW police acting assistant commissioner Tony Cooke said in a statement.

“We have people in NSW who have lost jobs, people who have missed the opportunity to farewell their loved ones at funerals, and of course, people who have lost their lives due to COVID-19.”

Homestay confusion

The stop-start introduction of lockdowns has made it difficult for Melburnians to escape the city, even for a few days.

When restrictions were lifted in June, Elsternwick woman Catrina, 33, booked a weekend in the Otways with her partner from July 18 to 20.

She made the booking through Airbnb on June 9, when there were only 64 active cases in Victoria.

One month later, after a sudden spike in cases, Catrina was forced to join hundreds of thousands of residents in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire in a renewed Stage 3 lockdown.

But she didn’t hear a word from Airbnb about her booking.

“I was expecting a generic email from Airbnb saying this is what you should do, but I didn’t get anything,” she told The New Daily. 

“Instead the hosts (property owners) messaged me and asked if I was from Melbourne and if we were going into lockdown. They said you’ve got to cancel.”

Small figurines of houses sit infant of a red screen.

A second lockdown has forced Victorians to cancel Airbnb bookings. Photo: AAP

After cancelling, Catrina said she was disappointed to find Airbnb had slugged her with a $30 service fee.

“I’m really disappointed in this. Yeah, it’s only $30 but where does that service fee go? Does it go to the hosts or Airbnb?” she said.

“You try and support locals who have been struggling through COVID-19 and you take a risk doing that, and it feels crumby to have lost 30 bucks through something we can’t control.”

Airbnb’s head of public policy for Australia Derek Nolan said the company “unequivocally condemn the behaviour of anyone flouting the rules” but did not comment on refunding service fees.

“Our message has been consistent and clear: Everyone must closely follow government advice and strictly adhere to the rules.”

Airbnb’s coronavirus policy states that reservations made on or before March 14, with a check-in date between March 14 and August 15, are covered and may be cancelled before check-in.

Reservations made after March 14, however, will not be covered under the COVID-19 policy, except where the guest or host is currently sick with the virus.

Frustrating, but please follow the rules

In many popular tourist spots like Lorne on Victoria’s Surf Coast, local hospitals would not be able to handle a major coronavirus outbreak.

This is why it is so important for Melburnians to stay away during the lockdown.

“If you’re infected and you go to a local clinic, you might take out two or three doctors and a receptionist,” Surf Coast Shire Mayor Rose Hodge told The New Daily.

“You’ve got to be really careful because we don’t have the amount of doctors or nurses that Melbourne has. It could take out a whole community hub,” Cr Hodge said.

australias best beaches lorne

The main beach at Lorne on Victoria’s southern coast. Picture: Getty

Cr Hodge said she understood it was “frustrating” for people who wanted to seek refuge in their second home during lockdown, but urged them to stay away.

“It’s not just people from Melbourne – this isn’t a regional versus Melbourne thing – it’s anyone who is not obeying regulations and directions from the chief health officer,” she said.

“Everyone needs to go back to keeping their distance and maintaining good hygiene.

“I’ve noticed it’s become very lax in the last few weeks and this isn’t over for a long while.”

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