Mildura businesses have been on high alert since it was reported that the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has deployed COVID compliance inspectors in the region.

Mildura businesses’ compliance with COVID-safe rules will be under the spotlight this month as DHHS focuses its attention on the region, ABC local news reported.

According to the report, the department has appointed two authorised officers to be stationed in Mildura, with the power to recommend improvement notices, or fines to be issued when required.

As the current restrictions stand, businesses must ensure the number of people in an enclosed area does not exceed the relevant density rules and keep records of visitors and staff for contact tracing purposes. All businesses with on-site operations are also required to have a COVIDSafe plan in place.

A spokesperson for the department was reported as saying: “We have a long way to go in defeating this virus and it remains important that we abide by COVIDSafe requirements to keep all Victorians safe – everyone must play their part by observing the Chief Health Officer directions.
“There will be specific compliance operations focused on businesses in the Mildura area over the next fortnight.
“And we want to work collaboratively with businesses to ensure they have COVID safe plans in place to comply with Chief Health Officer directions, but where this is not achieved, we will be issuing notices and fines.”

Fossey’s Gin and Whisky Distillery owner Steve Timmis said that he had also seen reports in the local media that the officers were coming to the region for a month.

“We will continue to do what we have been doing, and that is to be compliant all the way,” he said.

“I think one of the single most important things about the situation we have been in and moving forward, is to understand that if an issue arises you need to know who was in the place and when, and to be able to contact them. I have considered that to be very important from the beginning.”

Mr Timmis said the restrictions, while necessary, have been ridiculously extreme.

“Policing the contact tracing is okay, but threatening to fine over measurements and numbers and the semantics of that is brutal,” he said.

“It’s putting an industry which is down on it’s knees through the wringer and it’s going to take many years to recover − but yes we will continue to be complaint as we have been throughout.”

“It’s putting an industry which is down on it’s knees through the wringer and it’s going to take many years
to recover.”

Mildura Golf Resort executive director, Nick Cavallo said that his club has been diligent in the compliance area since the restrictions came into force and they also continue to ensure people visiting the club register their details upon entry either manually or via the QR code.

“We have followed all of the guidelines and had COVIDSafe plans in place as required − we take it very seriously,” he said.

Victoria Police already have the power to issue on the spot penalty notices of up to $1652 for individuals and up to $9913 for businesses.