POLICE have set up a roadblock at Lang Lang to check on travellers entering the South Gippsland and Bass Coast Shires after the Melbourne metropolitan shutdown was enacted at midnight last night.
Speaking on ABC Gippsland Radio this morning, Bass Coast and South Gippsland Region Inspector Paul Bruders said police would be using numberplate recognition and licence checking to assess where people were coming from and where they were going.
But he admitted that many people may have entered the area unchecked yesterday and that the ‘continue your holiday’ allowance could cause problems for authorities trying to police the lockdown.
“We’ve started the checking today,” he said, “but there was a significant increase in the people heading on to the Island yesterday, that’s for sure.”
But where they were coming from, he couldn’t say.
“We’ve set up roadblocks at Lang Lang on the South Gippsland Highway and also at Longwarry on the Princes Highway coming out of Melbourne.
“We’ll be using numberplate recognition and checking on people heading out,” he said.
“The rules changed at midnight but people may have taken advantage of that, call it a loophole but without knowing who they are there was a significant amount of people than you’d expect to see on a Monday, Tuesday, no it was Wednesday. Hard to keep track of days at the moment.
“There was certainly more traffic heading to the Island than you’d expect to see on a Wednesday.
“We’ll be checking regos and people’s rationale for leaving Melbourne.”
Casey, Greater Dandenong and Cardinia Highway Patrols were set up at the roadblock at the Lang Lang roundabout this morning (Thursday, July 9).
Leading Senior Sergeant Glenn Dunn from Casey Highway Patrol said they were providing a police presence on the arterial roads out of the “ring of steel”.
“It’s more of an education thing at the moment,” he said.
“We haven’t physically turned anyone around at this stage.”
Senior Sergeant Heather Allen from Casey Highway Patrol said they were anticipating there would be a police presence at that spot until at least next Tuesday.
“We’re ensuring people are doing the right thing rather than going on holidays,” she said.
“Or that they are not disregarding what the government is trying to enforce so we are here to enforce it.
“We don’t want this disease getting out of control.”
Bass Coast and South Gippsland Region Inspector Paul Bruders was asked on the radio if police would be doing random checks.
“We always do that but we’re also relying on the public to give us information,” he said.
“The rule is if you are already on holiday, you can stay on holiday, but we are clearly hoping that people are doing the right thing.”
He said that where there was a loophole, some people would try to use it and in the end that would force more restrictions.
He said these are trying times for everyone, including police and it was important to abide by the rules, and look after each other.
“Stick together and we’ll get through this,” he said.
But clearly, asking people from outside the area what they are doing in Bass Coast and South Gippsland has been complicated for police by the concession by the Premier last Tuesday that if you are on holiday, you can continue your holiday.
If you have concerns that the strict COVID-19 lockdown laws are being flouted, you can report your concerns to the Police Assistance Line on 131 444.