If your travel is deemed non-essential, you could land a massive fine. Photo Bev Lacey
If your travel is deemed non-essential, you could land a massive fine. Photo Bev Lacey

Gatton cops clear up confusion about essential travel

WHAT constitutes essential travel and what doesn’t? It’s a question at the forefront of many minds amid coronavirus lockdowns.

Police in Gatton have been receiving calls from community members itching to leave the house but unsure what they can get away with.

Senior Sergeant Don Graham said the phone calls began when restrictions limiting unnecessary travel were brought in.

He estimated Gatton Police Station had received between five and 10 phone calls a week from people seeking reassurance their outings would be seen as vital under the eyes of the law.

“We do get phone calls where people are trying to question what they can do, where they can go and that sort of thing,” Sgt Graham said.

“But the biggest piece of advice we can give them is to ask themselves whether it’s essential for them to be moving around.”

He said, in some cases, callers seemed to be looking for loopholes in the coronavirus Pubic Health Direction orders.

“People are saying things like they want to go mow the grass at their rental accommodation, which is vacant,” he said.

“As the Prime Minister said, stop trying to find loopholes.”

Generally the questions people posed were no-brainers.

“People will try to get around rules but when you actually ask if they’ve thought about it, they (figure it out for themselves),” Sgt Graham said.

“When you pull them up in relation to what they’re asking, they start thinking about what they actually saying and realise it’s not a good excuse.

“They want to feel backed up by saying a police officer told them they could – but that’s not right.”

He said the first step to take for anyone in doubt was to consider if the trip they plan to take is essential – if not adjust your plans.

“We don’t want to give out tickets, we don’t want to enforce these things – we want the community to be self-enforcing,” he said.

For anyone unsure about whether the travel they plan to embark on is essential, Sgt Graham said to keep up to date with Chief Heath Officer public health directions.

“We would rather them go to the one point of contact – the government websites – to read it for themselves,” Sgt Graham said.

He said most people were complying to the Public Health Direction orders.

“The vast majority of the community has – especially here in the Valley,” he said.

Travel deemed inessential constitutes a breach of COVID-19 Public Health Direction orders and can result in a $1334 fine.



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