By Shelby Brooks
TWO people have been arrested and two more issued with fines as part of Operation V/Line COVID, run by the Korumburra Police.
Sergeant Brad Steer said officers were now targeting metropolitan passengers of V/Line buses sneaking through the Lang Lang roadblock into rural areas.
“We’ve received intelligence that we’ve got Melbournians from metropolitan areas coming down into rural areas, particularly South Gippsland, but I think it’s across the board in the Eastern Region,” Sergeant Steer said.
“Unfortunately, they are using public transport to come in for the purposes of shopping or coming to catch up with friends for beers and entertainment.”
Last Tuesday, one man was remanded in custody, another man charged, bailed and released from Wonthaggi on COVID-19 breaches and other serious offences, and two other passengers on the bus issued $1652 fines.
Sergeant Steer said police were showing zero tolerance during the on the spot checks.
He explained that they won’t be removing people from the bus if found breaching travel restrictions.
“If we leave them to their own devices [and remove them from the bus], they’re going to walk off and do what they want so we’re trying to restrict that movement in the community. We’re trying to ensure they stay within the transport they are on to return immediately,” Sergeant Steer said.
“We’ll be giving them a directive. They’re on the bus, they are to remain on the bus and make sure they return back to a metro area immediately.
“At the end of the day, unless there’s a continuation of an offence, we don’t have an arrest power for those people.
“If they are compliant, they provide their details, we can identify who they are, and we issue the ticket and we accept it they’ve met their obligations.”
Sergeant Steer said V/Line had been extremely co-operative and even provided them with tip offs.
“V/Line have been very supportive in relation to this operation that we are running,” he said.
“They have already provided us information and will continue to provide us information.
“We’re focusing on running this operation the whole way through the restriction period.”
Random checks will be carried out at bus stops from Koo Wee Rup to Foster.