Park youths fined for corona breaches

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Ten youths in a Greater Dandenong skate park have been fined by police for breaching Covid-19 social distancing restrictions.

They were among 52 fines issued by Victoria Police in the 24 hours leading up to 15 April – down from 99 the previous day.

Others fined on 14 April included eight youths socialising at a closed school, six people playing tennis on a closed public tennis court as well as private gatherings at homes, police say.

In the same period, coronavirus cases continued to plateau in Victoria with eight new infections recorded. The state’s total is 1299.

As part of Operation Sentinel, Victoria Police deputy commissioner Shane Patton announced he would personally review Covid-19-related infringements using a “common sense test” each day.

It was in response to the withdrawal of a fine against a woman who posted an outdoors photo from a year ago on social media.

Police officers had issued 532 fines over the Easter long weekend, and 1301 since 21 March.

Dep Comm Patton said police had been using discretion, issuing “hundreds” of warnings in response to nearly 2000 public reports of breaches on 13 April alone.

Those fined were “deliberate, blatant and obvious breaches that can’t be dealt with by a warning”.

He said “reckless” party-goers in breach of social distancing were generally “naïve” about the potential dangers.

Their view had been they were not hurting anyone, they were friends and “it can’t happen to them”, Dep Comm Patton said.