Health minister praises Australians for spending Easter long weekend at home amid coronavirus restrictrions

Health Minister Greg Hunt has praised Australias for complying with requests to stay at home this Easter long weekend.

A Stay Safe from Coronavirus sign is seen at Elwood beach in Melbourne

A Stay Safe from Coronavirus sign is seen at Elwood beach in Melbourne Source: AAP

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has commended the way Australians have saved lives by staying home during the long weekend in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“What this weekend shows is that Australians can do it,” he said.

“And when we do do this, then we are giving ourselves the pathway through the virus and the pathway out the other side.”

Police around the country were out in force since Friday to ensure people followed lockdown and distancing regulations in each state and territory.

While the majority did their best to comply with the public health directives, there were those who couldn’t help themselves but flout the rules.

Police were out in force around the country handing out fines to people not complying with COVID-19 social-distancing rules
Source: AAP

NSW Police said they have issued 225 fines since Good Friday for breaching self-isolation protocol, while more than 150 fines were issued in Victoria on Easter Sunday alone.

However, it was in Queensland where Police gave out the most fines with 496 infraction notices handed out since Friday.

Queensland deputy police commissioner Steve Gollschewski told a press conference on Monday he believes the message to stay at home is still getting through, despite the number of fines.

Queensland Deputy police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski
Source: Getty Images

“Overall the community has been fantastic, probably the quietest Easter we’ve seen for a long time,” he said.

“But nonetheless, there are still those people that don’t get the message and do the wrong thing and we’ve had to issue 496 penalty infringement notices.

“We are a state of five million people nearly and for that period to see only 496 infringements issued is testament to the fact the community is listening.

“Where police see people doing the wrong thing, they have a conversation with them, and if they are trying to do the right thing and they are not understanding what’s required of them we give them the opportunity to comply and then if they do the wrong thing, then we take action.”

“We’ve got a long journey ahead of us yet and we really don’t know where this is going to go with any certainty,” he said.

Victoria Police Protective Services Officers speak to a man at St Kilda beach.

A woman from Newcastle NSW received one of the largest fines of the weekend.

The 47-year-old will be forced to pay $5,000 after she mooned the light-rail on Hunter Street in the Newcastle CBD before later spitting at paramedics who had been called to assist the woman.

A Brisbane man was caught twice flying his helicopter to Moreton Island for a picnic receiving two $1,300 fines.

While six outlaw Motorcycle group members were fined for gathering in cars in Melbourne’s CBD.

NSW Police are also on the hunt for a man who allegedly coughed on a married couple in Nelson Bay, 60 km north-east of Newcastle.

NSW Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said local police have the registration of the car the man in his late teens or early twenties is said to have spat out of.

“It’s a local vehicle, we know where the car is registered to. You’re best today to get yourself down to the police station and sort this matter out,” he said.

Measures have been put in place which allows police to fine anyone up to $5,000 for coughing or spitting on frontline workers. 

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus


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Published 13 April 2020 at 8:44pm
By Nick Houghton