A teenager has been slapped with a $1,600 fine – about £800 – after going out for a driving lesson with her mum during the coronavirus lockdown. Hunter Reynolds and her mother Sharee were pulled over by a police officer in Victoria, Australia at the weekend
The 17-year-old student was given the on-the-spot fine for breaching the “stage-three coronavirus restrictions” in place across the country. Under the restrictions, people should only be out driving to buy food or other necessary goods, to attend work or education, for an emergency or to provide care.
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton says driving lessons do not count as education under the Covid-19 restrictions set by Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton. He said: “This isn’t driving around the corner, it was driving 40 minutes from Hampton down to the Peninsula Link.
“It’s quite possible it will be withdrawn because the public is now aware they can’t be doing that activity, unless of course it’s mixed in with driving to the shops where you are exempt to go and buy food.”
Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville said people should not go looking for loopholes in the restrictions to avoid fines.
More than 100 fines were issued from nearly 1,000 spot checks in the 24 hours to 8am on Monday.
Hunter said she did not initially understand what they had done wrong as the learner plates were correctly displayed, she was observing the speed limit and they were not stopping anywhere.
“That’s not exempt and it’s not lawful to occur.
“Are we able to send a message to the public without having to fine in this circumstance? The fact it’s been raised has given actual clarity of the circumstance.
“(The police officer) said it was because of unnecessary travel,” Hunter told Seven news in Australia.
“I’ve been following all the Covid-19 guidelines – so I thought – I haven’t been seeing anyone or anything, so I was really surprised.”
Australia has more than 5,700 confirmed coronavirus cases, and its death toll rose to 40 on Monday after five additional deaths were recorded overnight.