A multi-agency operation will ensure members of the public are abiding by COVID-19 restrictions when they visit Victoria’s forests and parks across the Queen’s Birthday weekend.

The Conservation Regulator, Parks Victoria and Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) are undertaking an operation, that will see more than 150 authorised officers conduct patrols in forests, parks and reserves this long weekend.

The operation is supporting directions from Victoria’s Chief Health Officer around physical distancing and group gatherings, aiming to maximise compliance and reduce potential transmission.

As restrictions were eased on June 1, gatherings of up to 20 people are allowed in outdoor spaces, provided people are keeping the required 1.5 metres away from each other.  

Authorised Officers will collect and forward on information about potential breaches of COVID-19 restrictions to Victoria Police, which will provide Victoria Police with the ability to issue infringement notices if necessary.

As Conservation Regulator, FFMVic and Parks Victoria Authorised Officers are empowered to protect the environment, they will also ensure that visitors to forests, parks and reserves are respecting the environment.

On-the-spot fines will be issued for breaches of environmental law, including off-road driving or riding, illegal firewood collection and littering.

Patrols will also be used to educate people about campfire safety, and the importance of not leaving campfires unattended.   

Regular weekend patrols commenced in April and have been reviewed and modified as the situation and health advice changes.

For more information about the restrictions, visit: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.

Quotes attributable to Chief Conservation Regulator Forest, Kate Gavens:

“These patrols play a critical role in making sure people obey environmental laws, and they will target offences including off-road driving illegal firewood collection and littering.”

“Our patrols will be visiting as many sites as possible, from rivers, to camping grounds and popular hiking trails, to ensure people are physical distancing.”

“While restrictions have been eased, we all have a role to play to keep each other safe.”