Police shut down 10 illegal house parties in Victoria over the weekend before fines tripled on Monday – but those who are infected will get off scot-free.
Fifteen people were fined at a family birthday party of at least 40 people in Hoppers Crossing in Melbourne’s south-west on Sunday.
A phone video showed family standing shoulder to shoulder as they sung happy birthday while CCTV footage showed carloads of people arriving at the party.
Fines for unlawful gatherings in Victoria increased from $1,657 to $4,957 on Monday as the state battles 362 active cases.
But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said those who test positive to COVID-19 will not have to pay the fine to encourage them to tell the truth and help contact tracers.
At least 40 people gathered for a family birthday party (pictured) in Hoppers Crossing in Melbourne’s south-west on Sunday. Several people tried to run away when police arrived but 15 people were caught and fined on the spot
‘Their positive diagnosis and their story about who they have been contact with is worth infinitely more than $5,000,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘I know that seems counterintuitive to people and we perhaps all would feel better if people who are doing the wrong thing got fined. We’d perhaps have a moment where we’d be slightly satisfied by that.
‘The key point is, people will just not tell their story. They just won’t and I don’t think there’s another jurisdiction, not one that I’m aware of, that does that.
The Victorian Premier admitted that waiving the $4,957 fine is ‘counterintuitive’ but said ‘there can really be no other way’.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) said people who contract COVID-19 at unlawful gatherings will not be fined if they agree to cooperate with contact tracers. He said a positive diagnosis and information ‘is worth infinitely more than $5,000’
‘We’re not going to make any decisions that would make it less likely that people give us the full and complete story,’ he said.
Mr Andrews also said the fear of being fined was making symptomatic people avoid getting tested for coronavirus in the first place.
‘People are not getting tested because they feel that if they get tested and they are positive, they might find there’s some sense of shame, stigma or a penalty,’ he said.
‘The most valuable commodity at the moment is anyone with any symptoms, coming forward and getting tested. That allows us to protect them, their family and every family. That’s the fact of this, we’ve got to keep these testing rates up.’
Two Melburnians sit in Elsternwick Park while police walk by. Gatherings of up to 10 people in public and up to five people at home are permitted in Melbourne, with fines of up to $4,957 for those who break the rules
Mr Andrews warned ‘there’s COVID normal Christmas’ if people continue to defy the rules.
‘No way, we’re nowhere near that. That’s what at play here. I know it doesn’t sit right for some. Even against logic some of it doesn’t sit right. But it’s the only way you can go,’ he said.
Victorians are currently allowed to have a maximum of five guests by starting a ‘house bubble’ with one nominated household while 10 people can gather in public.
There were 10 new cases and seven deaths of COVID-19 in Victoria on Tuesday, bringing the total number of active cases to 362.
Masked Melburnians walk past a closed hat shop in the Melbourne CBD. There were 10 new cases and seven deaths of COVID-19 in Victoria on Tuesday, bringing the total number of active cases to 362