Elite police, drones to roam lockdown suburbs amid COVID-19 spike


“You would have to have been on Mars not to understand that the Chief Health Officer’s restrictions apply in these 36 suburbs and that you’re expected to adhere to them,” Mr Patton said.

“It’s up to us to make sure that those selfish few who aren’t adhering to the guidelines know there are consequences and by doing that we can help stop the spread.

As of Thursday morning, residents of 10 Melbourne postcodes can only leave the house to provide care, to go to work or study, to exercise or to buy groceries.

Checkpoints have been set up around the areas and drivers are being asked to show their licences and explain where they are going and why.

People face $1652 fines for breaching restrictions.

Mr Patton said he had told his officers to be tough on those caught doing the wrong thing, with drones to be used to monitor public spaces.

Police at a road stop on Somerton Road in Roxburgh Park on Thursday.

Police at a road stop on Somerton Road in Roxburgh Park on Thursday.Credit:Chris Hopkins

He rejected suggestions language barriers in some parts of Melbourne may be stopping the spread of health information and warned anyone attempting to falsify paperwork to dodge the lock down measures that they faced jail terms of up to 10 years.

Ignorance, he said, would not be an acceptable reason for anybody caught breaking the rules in the 10 Melbourne postcodes where stay-at-home orders are in place.

“We will be fining people, there is no doubt about that. For those selfish enough to disregard these warnings from the CHO … we will be infringing them. The window of police discretion is a very small window at the moment I can assure you and it’s rapidly closing,” he said.

“While we may have been very lenient in recent times … for the safety of the public that leniency is dissipating day by day.

Police Minister Lisa Neville.

Police Minister Lisa Neville.Credit:Chris Hopkins

“Only in extreme cases of ambiguity will we be doing so.”

Warnings about forging documents comes as The Age and Sydney Morning Herald report that VicRoads has moved to stop a significant surge in licence amendments, as people rush to change their addresses in the hopes of getting through police checkpoints.

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Police Minister Lisa Neville said she understood the frustrations of residents who live in the 36 locked down suburbs but said some people must to do the “tough yards” to help Victoria get on top of the COVID-19 outbreak.

She said the homes of high-risk cases could also be checked multiple times a day to ensure occupants are self isolating.

“If everyone does the right thing … over the next month we have a opportunity to get on top of this,” Ms Neville said.

“These have been really tough decisions for everyone to make. Tough decisions but made for the right reasons.

“Thousands of people will come into contact with police each day as a result of this new operation.”

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