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‘Stuff it, it’s hot’: Hundreds ignore lockdown rules at St Kilda beach

One group of five maskless sunbathers lay on towels with a six-pack of beer.

“We’re doing push-ups,” laughed a heavily tattooed man.

St Kilda beach on Tuesday as the weather reached 30 degrees.

St Kilda beach on Tuesday as the weather reached 30 degrees.Credit:Justin McManus

A group of four young sunbathers, also without masks and sprawled out on towels, said they had ridden their bikes down to the beach and stopped for a swim.

“It was over a long time ago,” one said of the pandemic.

Further along at St Kilda west beach, people were also seen not wearing masks.

One man, who was going for a walk, said he took off his mask after seeing so many other people not wearing theirs.

Many went maskless at St Kilda beach on Tuesday.

Many went maskless at St Kilda beach on Tuesday.Credit:Justin McManus

“I was surprised how many people had them off,” he said.

“I wore mine leaving home, then I got up to St Kilda beach and I thought, well, no one is wearing them. I thought ‘stuff it, it’s hot, I want to breathe’.”

His companion, a blonde in exercise gear with a surgical mask around her arm, said she wore a mask when outside in the previous stage four lockdown, but that many people, including herself, were less compliant this time round.

“It’s their little way of rebelling and I fully get it because there was no need to put us into lockdown,” she said.

Police offices in the city stop a man and ask him to put on a mask.

Police offices in the city stop a man and ask him to put on a mask.Credit:Joe Armao

Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday he believed most Victorians were obeying the rules.

”The vast, vast majority of Victorians are doing the right thing,” he said.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said data showed compliance wasn’t the “overarching driver” in the spread of the virus, instead the movement of people and the infectiousness of the virus itself were the key risk factors.

Mr Andrews stopped short of assuring Victorians the lockdown measures would be removed by Thursday, saying case numbers over the next 24 hours would dictate any move to ease restrictions.

“This [British strain] is a different virus and our response has to be nimble. We have to change as the virus changes,” he said.

Victoria Police is no longer releasing a daily update on fines issued during the pandemic.

Mr Andrews said on Tuesday he would release the number of fines issued during the latest lockdown, but the figures remained unavailable on Tuesday night.

Three men were arrested on Tuesday afternoon following reports a gym in Campbellfield was operating in breach of the Chief Health Officer’s directions.

Police said the trio would be fined and inquires would be made in relation to several gym patrons who were believed to be training at the time.

A police spokeswoman said officers would not hesitate to issue fines to anyone caught putting public health at risk by blatantly and deliberately breaching the lockdown directions.

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She said the force was maintaining a highly visible presence in the community to manage public order and public compliance.

“Victoria Police will continue to work hard to protect Victorians from the spread of coronavirus and encourages everyone to do their part by adhering to the current directions.”

The Age revealed last month that officers who issued fines for breaches of COVID-19 restrictions were instructed to hand out cautions for unpaid infringements rather than proceed with charges.

Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent later said the advice had been “poorly worded” and police would continue to pursue the tens of thousands of people whose fines remained unpaid.

Currently, people caught breaching the Chief Health Officer’s directions face a fine of $1652. Those not wearing face masks can be fined $200. Businesses found to be operating in breach of the restrictions face a $9913 on-the-spot fine.

Port Phillip mayor Louise Crawford said the council had installed digital signage to inform and remind beachgoers of the rules.

“If restrictions are eased this weekend, we are expecting large numbers of people to occupy the foreshore and will have plans in place with Victoria Police to manage crowds and encourage compliance with the CHO directions at the time,” she said.

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