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Face Covering Enforcement: Police will “Exercise Discretion”


As of 11.59pm Wednesday 22 July, police will enforce the new Chief Health Officer (CHO) direction that requires people living in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire to wear a face covering when leaving home for one of the four approved reasons.

As part of daily patrols, police will be able to issue on-the-spot fines of $200 to those not wearing a face covering without a legitimate reason.

This is a critical measure designed to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Police will exercise discretion over the next seven days, as we understand that for many people this is a significant adjustment. We understand that the vast majority of Victorians are trying to do the right thing and our exercise of discretion will reflect that.

That said, we do expect people to follow the Chief Health Officer’s directions and will not hesitate to issue fines to people who are obviously and blatantly showing a disregard for community safety by failing to wear a mask.

For example, if a person has a mask and refuses to wear it when requested then that person can expect to be issued with the fine.

Similarly, if a person persists with entering a supermarket when requested not to do so due to the absence of a mask then that person can expect to be issued with a fine.

We will not be publicly commenting on the specifics of every individual infringement.

Police Assistance Line

If people are concerned about mask wearing where there are breaches of mass gatherings, self-isolation and businesses operating in breach of the CHO directions, they should report it to the Police Assistance Line.

If individuals are found not to be wearing a face covering, this will be enforced as part of the proactive patrols police are regularly doing through Operation Sentinel.

Victoria Police’s priority first and foremost is to ensure the safety of the community and its officers, as such, we will continue to work around the clock in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Background information:

We are strongly encouraging people not to call the Police Assistance Line to report individuals not wearing a face covering as police will be enforcing this on the streets and it is very clear to see who is doing the wrong thing. Instead, we want to encourage people only to only call the Police Assistance Line if they are aware of mass-gatherings, breaches of self-isolation and businesses operating in breach of the CHO directions – these are breaches where we require community assistance so we can proactively follow up, as opposed to people not wearing face coverings which is very obvious to see. We also don’t want to create extended delays when people contact PAL.