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Australia Hundreds of police to enforce state's virus lockdown

23:05  24 march  2020
23:05  24 march  2020 Source:   9news.com.au

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Victoria is deploying 500 police officers for the daily task of enforcing the closure of non-essential services and the mandatory 14-day self-isolation for travellers.

About 150 of the 500 police taking part in Operation Sentinel will be drawn from the central operations response unit.

Officers who would usually be monitoring events or the transport system (both areas needing less attention right now) will also join the effort.

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Police will use FaceTime to check if travellers who have returned from overseas are abiding by the mandatory 14-day isolation rules.

This reinforcement came as Victoria reached 411 cases, including six acquired through community transmission.

Individuals face fines of up to $25,000 and business could be forced to cough up $100,000 for breaching restrictions.

Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent said while no one has been fined for failing to abide by the restrictions, police had received several calls from other residents dobbing in wrongdoers."

We are getting increased calls with suspected people breaching self- isolation and quarantine rules," he said.

"We don't want to have a big stick approach to this, but we want to ensure people aren't putting others at risk.

"No one has been arrested, charged or fined yet."

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said people must change their behaviour, stressing he's "uncomfortable" with the current rate of new COVID-19 cases in the state.

The Australian Border Force provides a list of travellers who have returned to Australia to Victoria Police.

Dep. Comm. Nugent said the majority of people had been complying by the rules when police undertook random spot checks. But some people had admitted to not staying home, instead choosing to go out to cinemas and eateries.

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