Police stand by hefty fines for pubs that broke COVID rules
HOTELS and restaurants have had enough time to educate themselves about COVID-19 social distancing rules and can expect police to fine businesses who blatantly disregard public health directives.
This the message from Assistant Commissioner Mike Condon, who backed the plain clothes police officers after they issued four Maranoa region pubs with fines up to $6672.
"When you have been educating the community for four months and you have had various scales of increasing the numbers in hotels and restaurants, everybody knew exactly what the rules were," he said.
"This was an opportunity for businesses to embrace the next level and to get their local economies going again.
"There was a blatant disregard and action was taken."
Roma's Royal on Ninety-Nine and Commonwealth Hotel, Wallumbilla's Federal Hotel and Injune Hotel were each fined.
Federal Hotel owner Samantha Senescall said the fines could not have come at a worse time, with drought and the COVID-19 shutdown draining her business.
"I have been battling trying to stay afloat for a while," she said.
"I just don't see how we can survive as I can't pay the fine.
"I have borrowed money off family to stay open during this time."
Ms Senescall said eight plain clothed officers arrived about lunch time on Saturday pushing tables together and not signing a visitor register.
Four returned the next day fined the pub for breaches of failing to comply with a public health direction.
The Royal on Ninety-Nine was also fined after customers did not sign a visitor register.
The fine prompted a wave of criticism from the wider community, with some calling them unfair.
Maranoa MP David Littleproud wrote to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk asking her to reconsider the infringement notices.
The fines were issued just days before the Queensland Government relaxed social distancing rules to allow private gatherings up to 100 people, including for weddings and birthday parties.
AC Condon said Queenslanders had, for most, part followed the Chief Health Officer's directives making the state almost most free.
He said the fines were in place to ensure the recovery remained on track.
"We want to work with you, we want to bring the economy back, but it has to be done in a safe manner that does not impact on the safety of our community," he said.
"This is a disease the kills people."