COMMUNICATION IS KEY: Senior Sergeant Rowland Browne.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY: Senior Sergeant Rowland Browne.

Lockyer, Somerset cops address massive health breach fine

LEAVING your home without a valid reason is enough to land you a fine of more than $1000 – but what constitutes breaking the law has left many scratching their heads.

In an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus, Queensland Police now have the option to serve a fine of up to $1334 to anyone breaching the Chief Health Officer’s directions.

But knowing what’s illegal and what’s just frowned upon is difficult when the rules are changing day to day.

Toogoolawah Police Station Officer-in-Charge Senior Sergeant John Cumner said people had been calling the station in search of answers.

“They don’t want to breach or contravene a direction, they want to be seen doing the right thing,” Snr Sgt Cumner said.

The Health organisation’s directions include people must not leave their house without a valid reason, that those ordered to quarantine do so, that non-essential businesses cease trading, among others.

Snr Sgt Cumner said, while QPS officers could now fine people for breaching CHO directions, the officers at his station were taking a “cautious and reasonable approach”.

“We understand the directions have impacted everyone’s life – some drastically and, for some, life will never be the same again,” Snr Sgt Cumner said.

He said it was important to approach these matters in a compassionate way.

“If someone has unwittingly or mistakenly contravened one of these directions, we would communicate with the person.”

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At the Lowood Police Station, education is key.

Acting Officer-in-Charge Sergeant Jim Corliss said everything was changing so quickly, which was leading to confusion in the community.

“It’s more about education at the moment, trying to educate people,” Sergeant Corliss said.

“It’s gone from ten people (allowed to gather) down to two people.”

He said, in the Lowood area, the officers were making an effort to let people know if they breached CHO directions.

“We’re trying to move people along and educate them and stop them from gathering,” he said.

“We have a few spots, down near Twin Bridges where we’re trying to get the message out that people can’t be congregating in groups.”

The area used to attract groups but had declined.

“We’ve been speaking to a lot more people, trying to get them to stay at home and comply with the latest recommendations from the government,” Sgt Corliss said.

In Gatton, people were also taking the directions seriously.

Gatton Police Station Officer-in-Charge Senior Sergeant Rowland Browne said most people had been compliant.

“If you go to the shops, everyone is pretty much treating each other as if they’d got the plague,” he said.
“We would rather work with people for compliance but enforcement is an option at the end of the day.”