VICTORIA Police has increased its presence on public transport, V/Line services and access roads to regional Victoria after country areas emerged from phase four lockdown.

And access to Phillip Island is one of their key focus areas.

Operation Guardian will see 200 police monitor key arterials, back roads and public transport to ensure those traveling to regional Victoria from Melbourne do so legally.

After setting up a response site at Newhaven on Phillip Island on Wednesday this week, Leading Senior Constanble Adam Slater of the State Highway Patrol said it was one of several number plate, licence check and place of origin check points set up in the region last week.

“We will be setting up these pop-up checkpoints right across regional areas, but especially focusing on popular visitor areas,” LSC Slater said.

“We issued a number of penalty notices yesterday which indicates there are still some people accessing regional areas that should not be there,” he said.

LSC Slater said the checkpoints, being operated under Operation Guardian, to protect regional Victoria would increase in the lead up to, and throughout the school holidays.

Anyone found to have violated the rules will be fined $5542.

Department of Transport Secretary Nick Foa said the increased presence around public transport would further enhance the work of police on the roads, protecting regions like Bass Coast and South Gippsland from increased exposure to potential outbreaks.

“We are stepping up our efforts to protect the hard-won freedoms of regional Victorians and want to double the number of authorized multimodal public transport officials out on the network,” he said.

“Our officers will be stationed at regional and metropolitan stations, including Southern Cross, to support the Victoria Police Operation Guardian and ensure that people travel for one of the five permitted reasons.

“Our message to Melburnians is clear – do not travel to regional Victoria for the wrong reasons – you will be caught and turned away.

“In the city of Melbourne, there are currently only five reasons to leave home: for essential food and supplies, authorized work, care and nursing, exercise and vaccination.”

The government has also cracked down on people leaving metro Melbourne to get tested or vaccinated. This is not a legitimate reason to leave metro Melbourne.

Police details

Victoria Police commenced Operation Guardian on September 10 to ensure residents from metropolitan Melbourne are not entering regional Victorian during the current lockdown.

As part of the operation, up to 200 police officers will maintain an around the clock presence on key arterials and back roads out of Melbourne, as well as in key regional tourism hotspots.

These arrangements will remain in place for the duration of the current Chief Health Officer (CHO) directions, which prohibits anyone from metropolitan Melbourne entering regional Victoria without a valid reason.

Police will be performing roving patrols utilising Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology to intercept those from metropolitan areas, while a number of vehicle management points will be in place each day checking motorists. These vehicle management points will be flexible and move based on intelligence, ensuring a level of unpredictability for those willing to risk a $5,452 fine for venturing into regional Victoria.

Victoria Police continues to maintain a strong presence across the state enforcing the CHO’s directions in the interests of public safety, including roving patrols across the NSW border, around the fringe of metropolitan Melbourne, throughout each community, and at key public transport hubs in Melbourne and regional areas.

For full information on restrictions and exposure sites, go to coronavirus.vic.gov.au