Australia’s Victoria increases fines for breaking Covid-19 isolation orders

The Australian state of Victoria has increased the maximum fine for anyone found breaking coronavirus isolation orders to almost A$5,000 ($3,558) after hundreds of people infected with Covid-19 were found to have left their homes.

Daniel Andrews, the state’s premier, said on-the-spot penalties would be increased to $4,957 from $1,652 previously for anyone found to have breached isolation orders.

The increased fine comes after new infections continued to climb even after a six-week lockdown was put in place in Melbourne, forcing the state to further tighten restrictions.

Mr Andrews said that out of more than 3,000 residential visits made by Australian Defence Forces and health officials to people who had tested positive for coronavirus, more than 800 could not be found at home.

A large number of those people claimed they were out exercising when officials knocked, prompting Mr Andrews to instruct that those who had tested positive for the virus would no longer be able to leave their homes for this purpose. They should instead use their gardens for exercise or open a window for fresh air, he added.

“It’s very difficult to enforce [restrictions] if people have a lawful excuse and people are going to use that to try and justify other decisions,” Mr Andrews said.

The penalty is the largest on Victoria’s statute books and repeat offenders could be taken to court where they could be fined A$20,000.

The state reported 439 new cases and 11 new deaths taking the total number of fatalities to 147 on Tuesday.

All of the new deaths were linked to aged care facilities, which now have 1,186 active cases.

“That remains a very challenging setting for us and one that we’re working incredibly closely with the commonwealth government, the private sector, public hospitals, private hospitals,” Mr Andrews said.

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