Police Issue Fines & Threaten Closures After Covid-19 Breaches at Thredbo
27th July 2020
Last modified on August 3rd, 2020
Officers in the Australian ski resort of Thredbo and the nearby town of Jindabyne handed out fines totalling more than AUS$20,000 at the weekend for breaches of social distancing rules.
They are warning that, if people continue to ignore social distancing rules, the luxury of having a drink after a day on the slopes of the Snowy Mountains will be taken away from them.
The on-the-spot fines were issued to both individuals and businesses.
12 individuals were given $1,000 (apx £555/€608) Penalty Infringement Notices (PINS) following a large outdoor event in bushland near Lake Jindabyne on Friday.
“About 11.30pm, police were called to the area and observed a large, organised dance party attended by between 150 to 200 people,” the Monaro Police District of New South Wales Police said.
Officers handed out fines to eight men aged in their 20s and early 30s and four women in their 20s.
“Additionally, just before 4.30pm on Saturday 25 July 2020, police attended a venue in Thredbo and observed a number of alleged breaches to the Public Health Act.
“This included a breach of capacity limits for the size of the venue, including people waiting in line and not physical distancing, more than 10 persons seated per table, no COVID-Safe marshals and patrons not seated whilst socialising.
“Police spoke to the licensee about the issues; however, when they returned an hour later, observed further breaches occurring and people running away.”
The licensee was issued with two $5000 PINS (apx £2770/€3043), and a travel company owner who had organised for a large number of patrons to attend the venue was issued a $5000 PIN.
Earlier this month a licensed premises in Jindabyne became the first venue in New South Wales to be shut down for a period of time following serious concerns and breaches of public health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The venue received a $5000 fine and was forced to close for 72 hours.
The maximum penalty for contravening a Public Health Order is a fine of up to $11,000 and/or six months imprisonment.
The standard penalty an on-the-spot Penalty Infringement Notice of $1000 for individuals and $5000 for businesses.
Monaro Police District Commander, Superintendent Paul Condon, said the time for warnings has long gone.
“We have issued reminder after reminder about compliance with public health orders, and it simply isn’t sinking in,” Supt Condon said.
“Going to the pub for a drink after a day on the slopes is a luxury that can and will be taken away if venues and the community choose to ignore ministerial directions.
“Police will continue to provide guidance in relation to COVID-19 safety plans, and those venues that choose to disregard this guidance will face hefty fines and potential closure.”
Authorities in New South Wales are also grappling to contain clusters of covid-19 around restaurants and a pub in Sydney.
The authorities reported 17 new cases on Monday.
Victoria has reported six deaths and 532 new cases – higher than the national daily high of 502 registered last week.
Melbourne, Victoria’s state capital, is halfway through its six-week lockdown.
With 350-450 new cases being reported per day, officials warned lockdown may be extended.
Last week they said sick people going to work, or not isolating properly, were helping the virus to spread.