Easter crackdown: No day trips, no holiday home escapes

 

Authorities have vowed to fine people still planning a leisurely Easter despite coronavirus restrictions, including people taking off to their holiday homes.

Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll has promised a statewide crackdown on people flouting social distancing rules at Easter, including those driving to holiday homes.

Ms Carroll said that was not essential travel as she outlined how officers had already issued 139 infringement notices in less than a week for people driving or being out without a valid reason, ignoring quarantine rules or ignoring social distancing restrictions in places like parks.

"I expect that this will pick up in the next few weeks and probably even at the weekend," she said.

"Disappointingly, even though we have been giving a lot of messaging on this, people are still blatantly disregarding the rules.''

Asked about holiday home travel, she confirmed "that's not complying" and said beaches would be patrolled.

"So it's very simple - maintain social distancing. Please, non-essential travel - you shouldn't be 'travelling outside your village'."

Ms Carroll said any "non-essential travel" risked a fine. Even if travelling to their holiday home, "what would be optimum is that people actually do stay in their principle residence", she said.

"There are nuances, obviously, but if it's non-essential you shouldn't be on the road. If you're not going to an essential service, you should be in your home."

People have been slapped with $1334 fines for "blatantly going for a drive" as police step up tough coronavirus crackdowns across the country, even as the spread appears to be slowing.

"On the weekend, we have fined people for blatantly just being out and about going for a ride or a drive, which was clearly not essential travel," Ms Carroll said.

Queensland Police have issued a total 139 penalty infringement notices in the past week. 58 of those were related to a car rally in Rochedale.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said most people were doing the right thing.

"What we don't want to see is mass movements of people to other parts of the state,'' she said.

"It's not the time to pack up and take your family to the beach for a holiday.''

Meanwhile, COVID-19 testing will be expanded to the general population on the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Cairns after authorities admitted they don't know how 32 Queenslanders picked up the deadly virus.

Chief Health Office Jeannette Young said anyone with symptoms would now be tested in those areas, regardless if they'd been overseas or had contact with a sick person, to check for hidden pockets of community transfer.

It came as the Government confirmed a $17.5 million fund to pay for hotel rooms for health workers working gruelling double shifts, and to keep their families safe from the threat of coronavirus, as revealed by The Courier-Mail.

Across Queensland, 14 new cases were recorded yesterday, taking the state's cases to 921. Of that number, 743 people are still sick, including 43 in hospital. Twelve are in intensive care and 10 ventilated.

But 173 Queenslanders have been given the all-clear and are now fully recovered.

Dr Young said her instruction to GPs and fever clinics to broaden their testing would give a picture of whether there was greater community spread in those coronavirus hot spots.

"At this stage I don't think we need to increase the testing outside those areas," she said. "I think this is pre-emptive, ahead of local transmission, so I don't see there'll be a big increase in numbers.

"Once we do see increased community transmission outside those areas, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Cairns, we'll increase the testing there as well."

As Health Minister Steven Miles thanked health workers on the front lines of coronavirus, he confirmed those worried about unwittingly transmitting coronavirus to a vulnerable family member could now ask to be put up in a hotel close to work.

"We are also planning to take care of our health workers throughout this outbreak, not only with a Plan A, but also with a Plan B and a Plan C if they should need one," he said.

"And that's what this investment in possible accommodation for them is all about. This is for Queensland Health staff who are well, who are working hard, who may need to be quarantined, or who may still need to work but for whatever reason their household circumstance means that they don't feel safe to be going home or quarantining at home.

"They might have a child with an immune disorder, they might have an elderly parent living with them and all of those things can be taken into account."

Originally published as Easter crackdown: No day trips, no holiday home escapes


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