Exasperated by the numbers of people turning up to go backcountry skiing, despite the closure of resorts, Gunnison County in the USA is telling non-residents to go home or be fined $5000.

THERE was nowhere near the crowd you’d usually expect see in Bass Coast and South Gippsland over Easter.

However, while the day-trippers stayed away, it was noticeable that many holiday homeowners did head for the coast, laying low except to attend local supermarkets, hardware shops and takeaway coffee shops.

The closure of beaches and the weather certainly helped, with storm winds hitting a peak of 132km/h at Wilsons Promontory, bringing down powerlines and trees.

The arrival of non-residents came at a time when the number of South Gippsland residents testing positive to COVID-19 reached five (5), as Bass Coast’s officially at least, stayed at four.

Nearby, there were also more positives as follows: Bass Coast 4, Baw Baw 5, Cardinia 11, Casey 49, East Gippsland 1, Latrobe 6, South Gippsland 5 and wellington (Yarram to Sale) 10.

Phillip Island council representative Stephen Fullarton has praised locals and holiday homeowners alike for staying away from the beaches.

“Bass Coast led the way on this, and I’ve got to say I was extremely gratified by the way people responded,” Cr Fullarton said.

“The beaches were only closed on Friday but the difference between Thursday and Friday was stark. There was no one on the beach at all.”

He said it was all the more praiseworthy as the surf was pumping.

“I went down to have a look at how the bans were working and you could see one after another perfect waves rolling in with no one on them. Pretty amazing.

“But it was the right thing to do.”

Meanwhile police are encouraging people to dob-in anyone suspected of an offence under the public health restrictions, but don’t call ‘000’. It’s not considered an emergency.

To report a suspected breach of the restrictions associated with COVID-19, such as contravening isolation requirements, mass gatherings and business breaches contact the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or report online.

State update

The total number of coronavirus cases in Victoria is 1265 (Saturday, April 11) – an increase of 24 from yesterday. There was one new death yesterday, a man in his eighties who died in hospital, taking the number of people who have died in Victoria from coronavirus to 14.

The total number of cases is made up of 661 men and 604 women, with people aged from babies to their early nineties.

At the present time, there are 118 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Victoria that may have been acquired through community transmission. Currently 44 people are in hospital, including 15 patients in intensive care, and 86 people have recovered.

More than 67,000 Victorians have been tested to date. Of the total 1265 cases, there have been 1012 in metropolitan Melbourne and 234 in regional Victoria. Several cases remain under investigation.

The Department of Health and Human Services follows up and monitors all close contacts of confirmed cases and provides them with information and support. All close contacts must self-isolate for 14-days.

There are only four reasons for Victorians to leave their home: food and supplies, medical care and care giving, exercise, and work or education. Police have strong powers to enforce these directions and can issue on the spot fines, including up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 for businesses.

Under the State of Emergency people who don’t comply could also be taken to court and receive a fine of up to $20,000. Companies face fines of up to $100,000. Police will be out in full force over the Easter long weekend issuing fines to anyone who disobeys these directions.

With the Easter holidays in full swing, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton today repeated his strong message that Victorians must continue to be vigilant in practicing physical distancing and staying at home for all but essential outings.

“The rules are clear, and they don’t change over Easter – stay at home,” Professor Sutton said.

“This is tough for many families, but no Easter holiday is worth a life. Stay at home, protect the health system, and save lives.

“This is not a normal Easter. Travelling, visiting friends, heading to the beach or staying in regional Victoria could see all our hard-won gains evaporate.

“Physical distancing will save lives. I urge people not to look for loopholes and do the right thing.”

For information on measures and restrictions in Victoria for slowing the spread of coronavirus visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au