Two Men Playing Pokémon Are Among The Wild List Of Social Distancing Fines Handed Out In Melb

Friends sitting around a heater, a man who refused to leave a KFC, and people literally hiding in closets and garages – these are just some of the Melburnians who have copped a fine for breaching social distancing rules in the past few days.

Melbourne is currently in Stage 3 lockdown restrictions, and Premier Dan Andrews is warning an unprecedented Stage 4 might be necessary.

Somehow, that message is not getting through. People in Melbourne are still having house parties, and they’re paying through the nose for it.

On Wednesday, deputy police commissioner Rick Nugent said 351 infringement notices have been issued since Stage 3 restrictions came into effect last week, on top of the 151 notices issued to people at vehicle checkpoints.

In one case, a party at a La Trobe St short term rental property was fined twice. Police issued fines to 10 people the first time around and sent them packing. A while later, cops returned to the same property and issued a further 24 infringement notices to people. The owner of the property was also fined for renting out the place for the purposes of a gathering.

In another, a man was fined for refusing to leave KFC before he finished his meal.

“Clearly KFC is popular during the lockdown,” Nugent continued, referencing a party hit with an $26,000 fine last week after their massive KFC order alerted authorities to the gathering.

“A person ordered KFC and sat in the restaurant and refused to leave,” Nugent said. “Police attended and the person still refused to leave, wanting to finish their KFC.”

In yet another incident, 10 mates sitting around a heater and drinking beer outside were issued fines. In another, two men were also fined for driving around playing Pokemon Go.

“The restrictions for leaving your home are well known,” Nugent said. “I can say it does not include playing Pokemon.”

Right now, there are only four reasons Melburnians can leave the house: for food and essential goods, for medical care or assisting in the care giving of others, for daily exercise, and to attend work or school. That’s it.

Police have also issued fines to 40 people for visiting massage parlours or brothels, and hit two of those businesses with a fine as well.

“The time for warnings is over,” Andrews said.

“Last time, there were many more warnings issued than fines issued. This time it’s different.”

Fines in breaches in Victoria are up to $1,652 per person, and up to $9,913 for businesses.

“The most common reasons is people going to visit family and friends or associates, and overnight stays, which is clearly not permitted under the restrictions,” Nugent said.

“Of particular concern to us are ongoing parties and gatherings, people playing poker. We’re finding people in cupboards, we’re finding people in garages. Please stop. Do all you can to support what the rest of the community is doing to address this health emergency.”