Police have warned Australians to stay home this Easter unless travel is essential. (ABC News: Jon Daly)
As Easter weekend approaches, there is a great temptation to hit the road, but authorities have warned drivers to think carefully before picking up their keys.
Aware of keeping the coronavirus under control, police across the country redoubled their efforts to crack down on non-essential travel.
So, what is essential? Can you drive to see a partner or relative? How about a quick trip to a vacation home or a city cruise?
Each state and territory has different rules so here’s a summary of what you can and cannot do behind the wheel this long weekend.
Can I drive to see my partner?
Most states and territories allow partners to visit, but conditions exist. (ABC News: Sowaibah Hanifie)
In general terms, drivers should have a reasonable excuse to leave their homes.
This may include: buying food or supplies, traveling to work, obtaining medical assistance or exercising.
In New South Wales, the reasons listed do not specify driving to look for a partner, but earlier this week NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the visits would be allowed for “care reasons”.
“We have to take care of each other, but don’t take the whole family with you. Don’t take your grandparents,” he said.
In Victoria, similar restrictions apply, but partners are an exception. If you live apart, you can visit at home.
South Australians were begged to adhere to the “spirit of guidance” about travel and restrictions on social gatherings are less stringent.
Visits were allowed where care or support is being provided.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said partners can visit each one under a “careful” exception. (ABC news)
Tasmanian police warned that there will be “helicopters in the sky” to ensure that residents do not leave their main residence unless they access essential services, such as food or medical supplies.
In Western Australia, partners can visit if they live in the same region.
But those who live in separate families must continue to practice social distance in the presence of each other.
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Queenslanders and ACT residents can receive up to two visitors to their home at a time, but they must also practice social detachment.
NT members were instructed not to meet in groups of more than two people, except with the immediate family, if they need to travel outside the home.
Police will check whether residents are adhering to social isolation measures this Easter. (Provided: Victoria Police)
Can I drive with other people?
For the most part, yes. But there are conditions.
In ACT, NT and Queensland, a person can travel with those living in the same house, or with someone else.
There are explicit exemptions in Queensland for the elderly or the disabled who need extra assistance.
According to the NSW government, the ban on gathering more than two people does not apply to cars or at public transportation points.
The Victorians were “strongly discouraged” from carrying passengers, except those who live in the same house.
The advice is less clear in South Australia, where there should be one person per four square meters.
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens told ABC earlier this week:
“Whoever goes against the very strong advice of not traveling, must still meet the requirements of social distance,” he said.
The rules in Tasmania and Western Australia are equally vague, but their governments have warned all passengers need an essential reason to travel.
In WA, colleagues can travel to work together as long as they are healthy and take “usual hygiene precautions”.
Colleagues can travel to work together in WA, as long as they are healthy. (ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)
Can I travel to my vacation home?
The general message is practically not.
The police in all states and territories will concentrate substantial resources on capturing tourists.
Even NSW government deputies were not spared.
In Victoria, however, you can travel between properties you own.
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What happens if I get caught driving without a valid reason?
Drivers who are unable to provide a valid reason for being on the road will be returned by the police.
They can also be sent on the way with a heavy fine.
Western Australia seems to have the most expensive penalty with people facing up to $ 50,000 for breaking their travel restrictions.
SA, WA, NT and ACT residents who violate self-isolation and social detachment laws can expect a $ 1,000 fine.
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In Queensland, the maximum penalty is $ 13,300, while those in Tasmania may have to shell out $ 16,800, or six months in prison.
Victoria police can fine up to $ 1,652 for failing to meet public health guidelines at meetings.
NSW drivers can spend six months in prison or be forced to pay $ 11,000 plus $ 5,500 a day if they continue to violate the rules.
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