Australian state to impose hefty fines to compel COVID-19 isolation

William WEST / AFP

Australian state Victoria has announced anyone breaking COVID-19 isolation orders will face hefty fines as more military personnel will be deployed to fight the spread of the virus.

Victoria earlier this week imposed a night curfew, tightened restrictions on people's daily movements and ordered large parts of the local economy to close to slow the spread of coronavirus.

But nearly a third of those who contracted COVID-19 were not home isolating when checked on by officials, requiring tough new penalties, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday.

Fines of nearly A$5,000 ($3,559.00) will be issued to anyone breaching stay at home orders. Repeat offenders face a fine of up to A$20,000.

"There is literally no reason for you to leave your home and if you were to leave your home and not be found there, you will have a very difficult time convincing Victoria police that you have a lawful reason," Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.

The only exemption will be for urgent medical care, said Andrews, adding anyone under a self-isolation order will no longer be allowed to leave their homes for outdoor exercise.

"Fresh air at the front door. Fresh air in your front yard or backyard or opening a window," he said.

Andrews said an additional 500 unarmed military personnel will this week deploy to Victoria to assist police in ensuring self-isolation orders are being complied with.

The latest military deployment will join about 1,500 troops already in Victoria and engaged in contact tracing, testing and assisting police at check points. Australia has deployed almost 3,000 troops to help in virus logistical operations.

Australia has recorded nearly 19,000 COVID-19 cases and 232 fatalities, far few than many other developed nations after closing its international borders early, imposing social distancing restrictions and mass virus testing.

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