Warnings ignored: Holiday hotspot locals worry as tourists arrive for Easter

Drivers on the Hume Highway over Easter have been told to stay at home. Photo: Mark Jesser
Drivers on the Hume Highway over Easter have been told to stay at home. Photo: Mark Jesser

Worried communities wanting to stay safe from coronavirus have reported seeing tourists stocking up on supplies in the supermarket and heading to holiday homes.

Residents from two Murray River towns - Yarrawonga and Bundalong - have contacted police and turned to social media to vent about who they had seen roll into the towns.

Cars have been spotted at holiday homes, fast-food outlets and supermarkets.

"I just went to Woolies for an essential top-up of supplies and was shocked to see many Melbourne residents and holidaymakers filling their trolleys and preparing for a great weekend, bringing with them a great risk," Daimo Doodman said

"Information has been shared that of the eight known cases of COVID-19 in the Yarrawonga area, seven were from Melbourne, six of those had been overseas.

"You cannot stay in a motel, an Airbnb or rent a holiday home for your family due to risk, so why can you travel here if you own a holiday home?"

He said the Victorian government's statement that people could travel to holiday homes, went against the advice to stay away from regional communities.

There were already reports of masses of people gathering at camp sites around Ballarat, including dozens of campsites with tents, caravans and a bus at Burrumbeet, as spotted by The Courier.

Police have been conducting regular patrols across known camp sites around the region, but so far those detected have held permits to be at the sites.

In Tasmania police wasted no time fining people.

In the past 24 hours they have told 15 people to get out of holiday hotspots and go back to their primary residences and more than 35 people across the state have been intercepted travelling in cars, including those towing caravans and boats. The travellers were questioned by police and turned around if required.

Police were also monitoring the beaches at coastal hotspots such as the Gold Coast and Byron Bay.

The quiet scene at Byron Bay was far different from the now iconic image a couple of weeks ago that led to stricter social distancing restrictions, but views of the live feed showed plenty of people were still surfing on Good Friday at Rainbow Bay on the Gold Coast.

NSW Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said in the 24 hours from Thursday afternoon, 50 people had been issued infringement notices of $1000 for not obeying restrictions.

"Police have been vigilant with people towing caravans, people with trailers and quad bikes and camping gear, people with surfboards," he said.

"These people need to be sent a very clear message that it won't be tolerated."

He said people in cars with Queensland and Victorian were easy to spot an police had been telling them to go back home.

Tasmania police had also directed 15 people in the 24 hours since Thursday afternoon to go back home, and stopped more than 35 people in cars, including those towing caravans and boats, many who were asked to turn around and head back to their place of residence.

Despite reports of tourists also heading to holiday homes in Beechworth, Indigo mayor Jenny O'Connor the town appeared to just be full of residents.

The supermarket did its normal busy trade on the Thursday before Easter.

"From what I could see it was pretty much local people getting ready for Easter. That was good because I was a bit concerned initially," she said.

"Generally people have listened to the request to stay at home ... It was a very risky weekend, that's when things could have really taken off so I'm feeling hopefully that we've managed to stay safe up here."

This story Holiday hotspot locals worry as tourists arrive for Easter first appeared on The Canberra Times.