Mansfield, Murrundindi locals concerned Melburnians fleeing, boasting about avoiding police checkpoints

Mansfield, Murrundindi locals concerned Melburnians fleeing, boasting about avoiding police checkpoints

Melburnians are boasting about ways to avoid police checkpoints as regional Victorians fear for their health.

Taggerty General Store owner Raymond Goss told NCA NewsWire he had served “quite a few” customers from Melbourne who had visited the town in the shire of Murrundindi to “work on their properties”.

“Out of curiosity I’ll ask where they’ve come from because I know they’re not local, and they’ll say often they’re from Melbourne just up to work on their properties,” he said.

“They’ll say they’ve avoided police checkpoints by coming up past Lilydale airport – it’s about doing the right thing, but these are the ones you worry about.

“We’re not just a general store, we’re a post office, we’re a business, we’re a family, and if we get the virus we would need to lock everything up for at least two weeks.”

Mansfield business owner, Shane, who did not wish to provide his surname, said it was a situation of “spot the local” in the popular tourist town.

“The population here is about 3000, and normally when I go to the supermarket I know two in three people – but these days it’s spot the local,” he said.

“I’m a country bloke and it’s very easy for me to spot a city-slicker just like it is for a city-slicker to spot someone from the country, and there are quite a lot of strange faces around town.

“We’re not against people coming up here, but we have zero active cases here and we want it to stay that way.”

State Liberal member for Eildon Cindy McLeish said she had fears about the spread of COVID-19 into regional Victoria due to the ease of travelling beyond the lockdown zone.

“I have had many calls from locals concerned about the ease in which people can enter the non-lockdown shires of Mansfield and Murrindindi,” she said.

“The current situation allows people from Melbourne to catch V/Line buses to Yea, Mansfield and Eildon without being questioned or temperature checked.

“There are no checks on the V/Line Trains and buses for people boarding at Southern Cross Station heading to Seymour and Benalla and connecting into Murrindindi or Mansfield Shire.

“This is distressing for locals and businesses as there is no monitoring of people coming and going from restricted areas into non-restricted areas.”

Ms McLeish proposed increased temperature checks at lockdown checkpoints, temperature checks for passengers and staff prior to boarding V/Line buses and trains and mandating the use of face masks on V/Line transport.

But state Police Minister Lisa Neville denied the claims and said officers were out “in full force” patrolling checkpoints across the state.

“They’re out in full force with increased patrols monitoring exit and entry points to regional Victoria including train carriages, train stations and ferry terminals as well as public transport departing from Southern Cross station,” she said.

“They’re also on our local roads and out in the community on foot making sure people are abiding by the directions of the chief health officer.”

Booze buses have been deployed to road stops and checkpoints to monitor traffic along main arterials into regional Victoria, with police using technology to scan registration details and identify the primary addresses of licence holders.

Individuals caught breaching lockdown laws faces on-the-spot fines of $1652.

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