Quarantined woman goes on shopping spree
While many Australians heeded government advice and stayed at home this weekend, others found themselves on the wrong side of both the front door and the law.
The police came knocking at a party of Australian Federal Police recruits on Friday night, about 150 cars were stopped at a rally in Brisbane on Saturday night and one man found himself behind bars on Sunday night after allegedly wedging the fire exit door of his Perth hotel open so he could escape quarantine undetected.
Below are just a few of the Australians allegedly found gathering en masse indoors or out and about without a reasonable excuse over the past few days.
Fresh air and exercise are an important part of keeping healthy.— Australian Government (@ausgov) April 4, 2020
Public parks remain open for exercise; but playgrounds and exercise equipment are now closed to slow the spread of coronavirus.
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QUARANTINED WOMAN'S SHOPPING EXPEDITION
Penalty Infringement Notices in the most virus-hit Australian state, New South Wales, carry on-the-spot fines of $1000 for individuals and $5000 for businesses.
Dozens have already been handed out acknowledging breaches of the state's Public Health Act.
NSW Police on Monday afternoon said 15 COVID-19 PINs had been issued since their Sunday night update.
A 65-year-old woman who flew from Indonesia to Sydney on March 22, prior to the introduction of federal mandatory hotel quarantine rules, was among those fined.
Police said the traveller had been directed to self-isolate at home but was spotted at a shopping centre in Grafton about 3pm on April 1 - 10 days since her flight.
"Two hours later, at about 5pm, police located the woman in her car," police said.
"She told officers she had been to seven separate retail stores that day, including the supermarket. The woman was directed to return home immediately and was issued with a $1000 PIN."
At 2.15am yesterday on the state's South Coast, police spotted a vehicle parked near bushland in North Nowra.
"As police approached, four women were sighted in the vehicle, including three who were lying down in the backseat," police said.
"The women told police they had been at a party but had been asked to leave. They were each issued with a $1000 PIN."
COUPLE IN CAR, 'BORED' WOMAN FINED $1000
A couple sitting in a car in the NSW Hunter Region had a costly trip last week, copping $2000 in fines after offering up no explanation for why they were out.
Police spotted the pair sitting in the vehicle on Scott St - a wide and grassy suburban street - in Muswellbrook on April 1.
"Following inquiries, officers attached to Hunter Valley Police District found neither the 32-year-old woman or the 27-year-old man had a reasonable excuse not to be at home," NSW Police said in a statement.
Penalty Infringement Notices in the most virus-hit Australian state carry on-the-spot fines of $1000 for individuals and $5000 for businesses. Dozens have already been handed out.
Police on Sunday night said 18 new PINs had been issued in relation to alleged breaches of the state's Public Health Act including a 33-year-old woman who was travelling in the passenger seat of a food delivery driver's car in Sydney.
About midday on Saturday, Quakers Hill police stopped a vehicle and spoke to two people in the car - a food delivery driver and a female passenger.
"The driver was employed delivering food; however, police allege the 33-year-old woman from Toongabbie, who was the front-seat passenger, was only there because she said she was bored being at home," NSW Police said in a statement.
A number of PINs were issued to people found drinking in public places, driving around aimlessly or not obeying social distancing directions.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has vowed to personally review every PIN issued in relation to alleged breaches of Public Health Orders, "to ensure the issuing of such infringements is the most appropriate course of action".
"Commissioner Fuller will also be reviewing the wider application of this new legislation daily to ensure best practice across the board," the force said last week.
QUARANTINE HOTEL ESCAPE
A man spent Sunday night behind bars in Western Australia - the very night the state enforced a hard border closure - after allegedly wedging a fire exit door at his hotel to breach self-quarantine requirements, police say.
The 35-year-old man is an interstate traveller from Victoria who arrived on March 28.
"He was required under the Emergency Management Act to self-quarantine for 14 days (until 13 April 2020) and he was provided a room at a Perth hotel for this purpose," WA Police said in a statement on Sunday.
"It is alleged during the quarantine period, the man breached the self-quarantine requirements that he was bounded by on a number of occasions.
"He wedged open a fire exit door at the hotel to enable him to leave and re-enter the property without being seen by staff. He utilised public transport to travel within the metropolitan area."
The man was taken into custody and charged with two counts of failure to comply with a direction (Section 86 1A EMA). Police said he was refused bail on the basis that he will likely continue or repeat the offence, endangering the safety of others.
SYDNEY BEACHES BECOME GATHERING 'HOT SPOTS'
First it was the eastern suburbs with hundreds of people heading to Bondi despite social distancing measures in place - this past weekend it was the north.
Northern Beaches Council confirmed on Facebook on Sunday that NSW Police had closed Manly, Warriewood, North Steyne, Queenscliff, Freshwater, Curl Curl and Palm Beach as a result of residents failing to follow social distancing directions.
"More beaches will close and reserves too if people don't follow the rules," the council wrote.
"Please help us to help you. Stay safe."
Rangers, council staff and NSW Police were posted to the "hot spots" where large gatherings had occurred.
People in board shorts and bikinis were seen lining the shore despite government advice to stay at home unless you need to make an essential journey and you have a reasonable excuse.
At Bondi Beach about 9am on Sunday, police were approached by lifeguards seeking assistance after a young man ignored the council's 'beach closed' signs.
After he allegedly refused their instructions to move on, the 21-year-old was arrested but then allegedly coughed at an officer claiming he was infected with COVID-19.
"He was taken to Waverley Police Station and charged with fail to comply with terms of notice erected by council, fail or refuse to comply with requirement of police officer, resist officer in execution of duty and intimidate police officer in execution of duty without actual bodily harm," NSW Police said in a statement.
The man was refused bail and is due to face Central Local Court on Monday. Police have since confirmed he does not have COVID-19.
DOZENS FINED AT 'INEXCUSABLE' CAR RALLY
Fifty-eight revheads have each been fined $1334 after a car rally involving about 150 cars in Brisbane's south on Saturday night.
Those slapped with the penalty, enforced as a result of failing to comply with a COVID-19 direction issued by the Queensland Chief Health Officer, were aged between 17 and 30. Some were drivers, others passengers.
Some cars attempted to flee but drove across grassland and became bogged.
Queensland police were alerted to the rally in a warehouse car park at Brickworks Place in Rochedale about 10pm on Saturday.
"It is inexcusable what happened at Rochedale last night and such blatant disregard for the lives of Queenslanders will not be tolerated," Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said in a statement on Sunday.
Video released by the Queensland Police Service shows a stream of cars being stopped, with one male officer asking a driver: "Are you aware of the home confinement rules in relation to the coronavirus?"
He reads out the allowances, none of which apply to the driver, and adds: "So you basically thought you were coming here to see a car show?"
"I don't think that's on the list," the officer's colleague replies.
In Queensland, the Home Confinement, Movement and Gathering Direction came into force at 11.59pm on April 2.
CROWDS AT POPULAR WEEKEND MARKET
Brisbane residents flocked to a popular farmers' markets on Saturday morning, brazenly defying the strict social distancing measures enforced to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Large crowds were photographed attending the Jan Powers Powerhouse Farmers' Markets in the inner city suburb of New Farm, with a number of attendees reportedly defying the 1.5m rules imposed by the federal government.
The organisers of the weekly market in Brisbane sent out instructions on Facebook on Friday saying the event would be going ahead but would be adhering to the rules by "putting in all precautions in regard to COVID-19".
One of those was an instruction to keep a distance of 1.5m between each guest, which did not appear to be followed according to images from today's market.
Other measures put in place were vendors pre-bagging produce to limit distance and interaction with consumers, as well as food stalls selling takeaway food only, guests limited to one person per household, and seating in public areas prohibited.
AFP RECRUITS PARTY UNDER INVESTIGATION
A number of Australian Federal Police recruits are under investigation after they were filmed throwing a party at their residential college amid social distancing restrictions.
Video obtained by the ABC shows trainees gathering in Barton, Canberra on Friday night before the event was broken up by local police.
"ACT Police can confirm it attended a gathering at the AFP College on Friday evening and spoke with those involved," an AFP spokesperson told the ABC on Sunday.
"The matter has been handed to the AFP to investigate further and take any action deemed necessary. The matter is currently being investigated."
The AFP said it expected members to comply with the law and relevant health directions, and any breaches of these would be dealt with in line with AFP professional standards framework.
The video was recorded by a neighbouring resident concerned the recruits weren't complying with social distancing and mass gathering rules.
Looking to Easter next weekend, Australian Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy said it will be a "very different" commemoration this year and urged people to avoid marking the occasion as usual.
"Easter is a time when people normally travel, get together and have social gatherings and we're asking you not to do that," he said on Sunday.
"We're asking you to stay with your family, in your place of residence, not travel where you might be unwittingly spread the virus, not have parties where you might unwittingly be sharing the virus with people who don't have it. Particularly not with those older and vulnerable Australians."
Originally published as Couple spotted sitting in car fined $2000