Almost 4000 Victorian businesses will be targeted over the next three weeks to ensure they are complying with COVID-safe rules.
High-risk industries including retail, hospitality and licensed venues will be the focus of the blitz in a bid to ensure workers and the public aren’t exposed to the virus over Easter and the school holidays.
Authorised officers will target the seafood, meat and poultry trade in the lead-up to Easter, as well as supermarkets, which are expected to be busy before the long weekend.
The Queen Victoria Market, which is expected to draw large crowds before Good Friday, will also be part of a “focused strategy” that will include follow-up visits for businesses previously found to not be following the rules.
Penalties for breaching Victoria’s COVID-19 restrictions include on-the-spot fines of $1652 for individuals and $9913 for businesses.
The checks will ensure businesses have a current COVID-safe plan and their QR code system works and is being used properly by staff and customers.
Authorised officers will work with business to fix any problems and ensure they know their obligations under the chief health officer’s directions.
Police and Emergency Services Minister Danny Pearson said the blitz was about keeping the community safe while focusing on social and economic recovery.
“We know most businesses are doing the right thing, but we’ll be out in force over the next few weeks to make sure COVID-safe plans are in place and being adhered to – supporting high-risk industries and workplaces stay safe, stay open,” he said.
Other sectors to be targeted include warehousing, distribution and commercial cleaning services.
Regional areas expected to be popular with holiday-makers will be the focus this week, with Airbnb reporting a surge in bookings between April 2 and 9.
Cafes, restaurants and other local businesses expected to be popular with visitors may also receive COVID checks during the blitz.
This week authorised officers will focus on the Bass Coast, Mornington Peninsula, East Gippsland and Yarra Ranges, before moving to the Surf Coast, Geelong, Glenelg, Bellarine Peninsula, Colac-Otway, Warrnambool, Ballarat, Alpine, Hepburn and Grampians regions.
As part of the state government enforcement operation, the blitz will result in visits to an extra 500 businesses each week, taking the total number of sites checked to 3900.
So far, more than 15,500 COVID-safe checks have been carried out statewide, with 825 coronavirus-related compliance notices being issued.