The premier of the Australian state of Victoria, Dan Andrews, whose capital city Melbourne drew international attention in September for its harsh police response to protests against COVID-19 restrictions, has been fined $400 by police for not wearing a face mask.
Victoria Police on Friday afternoon confirmed that Andrews had been fined $200 each time for breaching the state’s mask mandate on both Wednesday and Thursday this week. Both times he was caught without a mask as he approached his daily press conference.
“Victoria Police can confirm it has issued two infringement notices to Premier Daniel Andrews for breaching Chief Health Officer directions,” a statement read.
Andrews had earlier apologised after a video and photo emerged of him not wearing face masks, which prompted police to investigate.
In a statement to News.com.au, Andrews earlier said that he would pay any fine from police if he was found to have breached public health orders; otherwise, he would have donated the equivalent amount to a charity.
“I am aware that as I approached two press conferences at the back of Parliament House this week, I removed my mask after leaving the car, before I walked to the back doors,” he said.
“I expect Victoria Police to assess this, and if they choose to issue a fine, of course, I will pay it.
“If they do not issue a fine, I will donate the same value to a charity working to support people in this pandemic because whilst this was an oversight, oversights matter—everyone needs to follow the rules, and I am sorry it occurred,” he said prior to being fined.
In Victoria, anyone 12 years and over must wear a fitted face mask whenever they leave their home, indoors or outdoors, unless a lawful exception applies, according to the state government.
Five million people in that state are subject to stay-at-home orders, that only permit them to leave their homes—while wearing a mask—for five reasons. Those reasons are shopping for necessary goods and services, care and caregiving, exercise, authorised work or permitted study, or to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
Under orders from the state’s chief health officer, masks must also be worn while riding public transport or taking a taxi or rideshare services for one of the five permitted reasons.
People who do not wear a face mask when required to can be fined $200.