Game of backyard cricket costs 5 Victorians $1652 in breach of coronavirus lockdown. Have Australian authorities come down too hard on supposed COVID-19 infringements? At what cost public health vs freedom of being?
‘Isn’t it exercise?’
This is the question many Australians are asking following Victoria cops fining five men $1652 AUD ($1010 USD) each after they were ‘caught’ having a game of cricket in the backyard (the great Aussie pastime…) in breach of that state’s outdoor coronavirus restrictions.
The five men were captured on film being stopped by two Victoria Police officers in footage shared (see below) to social media on Monday.
They were ‘fined $1,652 each for not abiding by the new lockdown laws’ and ‘having a game of backyard cricket’, according to the post. In Victoria, there’s a $1,652 fine for gathering in groups of more than two people.
New Victorian lockdown rule – No cricket!
Victoria police fine these 5 guys $1,652 each yesterday for having a game of backyard cricket. pic.twitter.com/mk2U1MYeJz
— Keira Savage (@KeiraSavage00) April 6, 2020
Australians at odd with cherished values and calls for public health:
The video, filmed in Melbourne, showed a man holding a cricket bat as two of his friends were spoken to by police.
A set of stumps could be seen in the background as officers wrote out infringement notices.
The incident has since led to open outcry, for and against the seemingly hefty fines.
‘Wow, that’s over the top! They just want revenue,’ one social media posted.
‘Bit harsh… I’d love to know how many of the backpackers got fined for that house party the other week!’ wrote another.
Wrote another, ‘Police been taken away from their duties of arresting real criminals, gangs? Telfon Dan is getting desperately short of funds.’
Rebutted one commentator, ‘Fine if it’s in ones backyard, however these guys were in a public park surrounded by houses with families all self isolating.’
While one commentator alluded to the racial tensions in the community in light of recent arrivals of overseas African immigrants in recent years: ‘It’s true that Aust’n State’s are cracking down, but nothing like the Starsi style of the Victorian Police who are virtually hunting down ordinary citizens for doing innocuous things like paying backyard cricket. Why has this zealous policing never been applied to African gangs?’
Other viewers questioned whether the strict measures were clear.
‘Isn’t that exercise though?’ one questioned.
Another said: ‘Everyone was saying lock us down weeks ago and now everyone’s complaining that people are playing sport with their friends or neighbors?
‘Can’t have it both ways. We need to stop the spread.’
The incident comes as Australian authorities seek to quash the spread of the deadly coronavirus which has sweeped the world and to a lesser degree in Australia while maintaining what many regard as their natural rights to access to freedom to the outdoors- but at what cost to the community?
The apparent breach comes amid confusing enforcement of coronavirus restrictions across the nation.
Thousands of Aussie beachgoers have been allowed to break social distancing rules while others have been penalized for taking a breather on a park bench while staying more than 1.5 meters apart (mandated distancing between individuals in public).
Victorians are only meant to leave their homes to get food, to exercise, for medical care or care-giving and for work or education.
Police have continued to crack down on people flouting the rules in Victoria, conducting 983 spot checks in the 24 hours to 8am on Monday and issuing 108 fines reports Australia Dailymail.
Rule-breakers can be fined $1,652 if they leave home for non-essential reasons and businesses face a $9,913 fine if caught breaching the restrictions.
Hunter Reynolds may have passed her first licence lesson, but she suffered a $1652 social distancing fail for taking a driving lesson with her mum. https://t.co/OJfYkCVRR4
— The Australian (@australian) April 6, 2020
Have cops been given too much power?
Meanwhile, police said they would review a fine issued to a Victorian learner driver who breached strict stage three coronavirus restrictions.
Hunter Reynolds, 17, was learning to drive in wet conditions with her mother as the passenger when a police officer pulled them over on the weekend.
The pair had travelled about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from their Hampton home to Frankston.
‘We didn’t think for one minute that we would be doing anything wrong,’ Sharee Reynolds told 3AW on Monday.
‘We weren’t in contact with any person, we weren’t stopping anywhere, we weren’t planning on visiting any destinations, we were just learning to drive in those conditions.
‘She (the officer) said we were too far from home and we would cop a fine, and that Hunter would be the person to receive that fine.’
The teenager has been given a $1,652 on-the-spot fine for breaching the stage three restrictions, but the pair plan to challenge it in court.
Meanwhile, NSW police are enforcing self-isolation regulations, with 98 infringement notices issued across the state since March 17.
As of Tuesday morning Australia time there had been 5,895 cases of coronavirus across the nation, with 45 deaths.
Since last Monday, residents in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the ACT have been banned from leaving home except for food and supplies, medical care, exercise, and work or education.
Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns said fines should be saved for serious offenders or risk clogging the justice system with challengers of their offenses.
‘If police are going to issue large numbers of fines they can expect many will be challenged and clog up an already desperately over loaded and delayed Victorian court system,’ he said.
‘Fines should only be used for serial noncompliance.’
What do you think? Have authorities gone overboard or is this the price to pay to make sure a deadly virus is snuffed out?