Anyone caught trying to flee Melbourne's lockdown will face $4957 fine
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Anyone caught trying to flee Melbourne's lockdown will face $4957 fine

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Accommodation providers in regional Victoria have been warned not to accept bookings from Melburnians as new heavy fines come into force to keep city dwellers at home.

People living in locked-down Melbourne will be fined $4957 if they're caught travelling into regional Victoria from Thursday as the state introduces a new offence of leaving a restricted area.

Ring of steel: Police stop cars heading into regional Victoria at Geelong.

Ring of steel: Police stop cars heading into regional Victoria at Geelong.Credit:Jason South

Police say the offence is aimed at deterring people from leaving suburbs that are still in stage four lockdown as restrictions lift in regional areas and families prepare for school holidays, which start on Friday.

"That is quite a significant fine and clearly aimed to deter people from the Melbourne metro area [from travelling to regional areas]," Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent said.

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"We don't want the virus to spread again in the rural areas."

From 11.59pm on Wednesday, regional Victoria will move to step three in the government's road map.

Mr Nugent said if multiple people are caught leaving metro Melbourne together they would each be fined the full amount and told to go home.

Police will be increasing their patrols of checkpoints and there will also be increased patrols at caravan parks and boat ramps and police will be checking all cars towing caravans or boats.

"We absolutely have a role in this to ensure those deliberately, blatantly breaching restrictions are caught and appropriately fined," Mr Nugent said.

Mr Nugent urged regional accommodation providers not to accept bookings from people in Melbourne.

"It might assist with your business ... but you're putting people at risk. We have gone through a lot in Victoria with the pandemic, let's get through the other side. Let's maintain for that bit longer."

Given Mornington Peninsula is considered within the metro Melbourne boundary, people caught travelling down to their beach houses from the city will receive the $1652 fine for breaching the five-kilometre radius restriction.

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The larger $4957 fine is for those trying to leave the "ring of steel" which surrounds metro Melbourne.

People travelling from one regional destination to another are able to travel through Melbourne if they need to, though the Department of Health and Human Services said travellers should not make unnecessary stops and must ensure their activities are safe and appropriate.

Mr Nugent warned motorists to expect increased delays at checkpoints with police and ADF personnel to increase the numbers of vehicles they check.

Mr Nugent said police would be called upon to be "protectors of their own communities" and help identify anyone visiting from stage four lockdown zones for non-permitted reasons. This will include checking areas around restaurants and bars.

"We all have restriction fatigue, we want to see an end to restrictions, the only way we can do that is to limit the spread of the virus," he said.

"It is about protecting life.

"People found to be breaching will be issued a $4957 fine, that is a huge fine."

Permitted reasons for Melburnians to travel outside of the lockdown zone include for work purposes, medical reasons, and for care and compassion.

Melburnians will also be able to continue travelling into regional and rural Victoria to visit their intimate partner, Mr Nugent said.

Premier Daniel Andrews reminded those wanting to visit pubs in regional areas will need to establish that they have a lawful reason to be there.

The premier addresses the media on Wednesday.

The premier addresses the media on Wednesday.Credit:Getty

"Because people went to regional Victoria from metropolitan Melbourne, had no lawful reason to do it, and took the virus with them," he said.

"There will be a time for travel. There will be a time for tourism to get back on its feet, Melbourne out into the regions and vice versa. That is not now.

"If you're not from regional Victoria, you should not be at the pub."

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