VISITORS and locals on the southern Mornington Peninsula appear to be taking a relaxed approach to the rules around COVID-19 safety.
A Portsea resident complained that people there, and in Sorrento, were treating the area as a “get-out-of-jail-free card” by congregating in groups, chatting face-to-face, and ignoring mask rules.
“All you need to do is drive and walk around and have a look,” he said.
“It is an absolute joke with nobody wearing masks outdoors in any capacity, and gathering at the coffee shops every day, especially the one at Portsea pier from 8.45-10am.
“Point Nepean National Park is being used for freedom purposes with no rules apparent.”
When the two towns were visited by The News many people on the street were not wearing masks. Workers at Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Yawa aquatic centre in Rosebud were photographed standing in groups with masks on their chins tucked under their noses.
The Portsea resident, who asked not to be named, said streets had filled up again after the lockdown extension last week with people “obviously travelling more than 10 kilometres to get here”.
“Builders continue to work but wear no masks while doing so. Neighbours are having family members coming and going and others are still having dinners and catch ups.”
Those with holiday homes in the area were permitted to drive more than 10 kilometres to get there before the lockdown being activated at midnight Thursday 3 June.
The resident said people “need to wake up to the fact that there is a lockdown and they need to stop being so entitled and selfish when the minority are trying to do the right thing”.
He said the absence of a police station or other authorities meant “people are just getting away with whatever they want and it’s not fair and potentially dangerous”.
The warning comes as Victoria records 11 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, including two reported on Sunday linked to the Arcare Maidstone aged care centre. On Monday Victoria had 94 positive cases.
The ABC reported that 24,265 tests were carried out on Sunday, along with 17,719 doses of vaccine administered at state-run sites.
“It’s important that we all follow the Chief Health Officer’s guidelines and do the right thing for our families, friends and the wider community,” the mayor Cr Despi O’Connor said.
“It’s also essential that we care for each other and keep an eye out for people who may be struggling.
“One of the most important things we can all do, if eligible, is book in for a vaccination. I am now eligible so I know I will be.”
Senior Sergeant Steve Wood, who is in charge of Operation Sentinel being run out of the Somerville police complex, said his teams were conducting a more proactive approach to thwart the spread of the virus, using education and warnings rather than heavy-handed enforcement.
“We are trying to make sure everyone stays alive,” he said.
As of Monday morning, his crews had not issued any fines for no-compliance in the latest lockdown.
The state’s top public health officials will assess whether the danger posed by new highly transmissible Delta strain, B1617.2 will keep Melbourne in lockdown for possibly another week.
It was confirmed on Sunday that a second case of the highly infectious COVID-19 variant that has ravaged India and spread in the UK had been found in Melbourne and may be spreading undetected.
The new strain is unrelated to all other cases detected so far in the battle against the virus. Two cases are linked to the West Melbourne cluster.
Another nine cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Sunday.