VICTORIA POLICE say they will continue to man the boundary between metropolitan and regional Victoria for the next six weeks.
On Thursday morning, police set up a visible checkpoint between Melton and Bacchus Marsh on the Western Freeway, to ensure those travelling towards Ballarat were only doing so in line with the new restrictions.
A bright blue booze bus with flashing lights was parked on the side of the freeway, manned by multiple units including state and local highway patrol in an effort to deter potential breaches of new restrictions put in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
As of 11.59pm Wednesday night, all metropolitan Melbourne suburbs as well as Mitchell Shire were placed back under stage three restrictions, meaning residents are only allowed to leave their homes for four reasons: for food and other essential supplies, for medical care and caregiving, for exercise or for study and work if they cannot do so from home.
Despite the new restrictions, a steady flow of traffic was still travelling inbound past the checkpoint and towards Ballarat.
While no vehicles were being stopped and questioned by officers while The Courier was at the checkpoint, traffic was filtered into one lane and a camera set up, believed to be scanning motorists' number plates.
The checkpoint is among many others across the state, which police have dubbed a "ring of steel" around metropolitan Melbourne and on major arterials leading to regional Victoria.
The checkpoints are part of an extension to Victoria Police's Operation Sentinel, which was set up to enforce the directions of the Chief Health Officer.
The region's Superintendent Jenny Wilson, who oversees police in the region encompassing Ballarat and Moorabool, said the checkpoint near Bacchus Marsh would continue for the entirety of the lockdown in Melbourne.
People can expect to be stopped and checked and asked where they resideSuperintendent Jenny Wilson
"People can expect to be stopped and checked and asked where they reside," Superintendent Wilson said.
"If they are from the Melbourne metropolitan area, they will be asked where they are going and what their reason is for being there.
"If they are found to be in breach of the four reasons to go out, they can expect to be issued with a ticket and their vehicle turned back to Melbourne."
In addition to random checks, Superintendent Wilson said police were also using technology to identify drivers they would like to speak to.
She said there could be congestion in the area at times as police conducted these checks, so people should plan for the possibility of a longer journey back to the western region.
"We thank people for their patience around the vehicle checkpoint, but this is being done to keep the state as safe as possible," she said.
Superintendent Wilson also reminded people to slow to 40km/h when passing through the checkpoint, for the safety of officers working on the roadside.
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An individual found to be in breach of the Chief Health Officer's directions can be fined $1,652, while businesses can be fined $9,913.
Non-urgent crimes as well as breaches can be reported by calling the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or submitting an online report at police.vic.gov.au/palolr.