Millions of Melburnians have finally tasted freedom after being confined to their homes for 112 days, but not everyone played by the rules during the city’s strict second lockdown.
At least 13,900 fines worth a whopping $20.15 million were dished out to Victorians for breaching the chief health officer’s directions and not wearing masks since the lockdown was reimposed on July 8.
Among the thousands of fines were at least 2856 Melburnians caught out during curfew hours, 1935 people who failed to wear a face covering and 1768 motorists detected trying to get through a “ring of steel” checkpoint.
There was also no shortage of excuses tried on police by rule breakers trying to weasel their way out of a $1652 fine.
One of the most popular was getting McDonald’s, like the four people caught breaching curfew while eating Macca’s on a footpath on August 7.
Meanwhile, a late-night KFC run cost 16 people more than $26,000 on July 10 when the cops busted a surprise birthday party in Dandenong after the fast food outlet raised concerns about receiving such a large order.
One couple were fined when they travelled 34km across the city from Tarneit to St Kilda East to get some fried chicken on September 18.
Another man drove 32km from Werribee to the CBD to buy his favourite butter chicken dish on July 18.
Fishing was also a common excuse, with one man stopped in Langwarrin on the Mornington Peninsula after travelling 83km from Keilor Downs to cast a line on July 19.
A group of four would-be fishermen were stopped and fined on their way to Geelong from metropolitan Melbourne on July 30, while a man was caught fishing without a mask more than 5km from home at the Safety Beach boat ramp on October 2.
Another couple from Preston said their “grass would have got too long” if they didn’t travel 300km to Koondrook in northwest Victoria to mow it.
One man thought it was a good idea to travel 70km to buy a vintage car on September 10, while another travelled across the city from Ascot Vale to Keysborough to pick up a mattress he “found cheap on Facebook”.
One couple from Sale in Gippsland drove 185km to Dandenong in the city to buy “specific vegetables that their baby liked” on September 12, while another dad travelled from Cranbourne to Dandenong to purchase bread his daughter liked on September 19.
Two men and a woman were slapped with fines after police found them in an inflatable boat listening to music and drinking alcohol in Caroline Springs on September 6, while a Whitehorse man who didn’t want to pay the Uber Eats surcharge was also caught out during curfew the same day.
Hundreds of protesters were also slapped with fines during numerous anti-lockdown demonstrations. The most fines issued in a single day was 387, a hefty $639,000 dished out in fines in the 24 hours to September 6.
But it remains to be seen how many of the almost 14,000 fines handed out during the second lockdown will be paid after it was revealed less than 5 per cent of 19,324 issued between March and August 24 had been paid in full.
And while the masks rule remains – a fine of $200 if caught without one – and the 25km travel limit and metropolitan and regional border staying in place until November 8, the removal of the four reasons to leave home should see fines drop significantly as Melbourne starts to reopen.
But police will still enforce the chief health officer’s directions, such as those around group size limits and home visits, and have warned they “will not accept the selfish behaviour” of those who continue to breach the restrictions.