An Australian man has been hit with a significant penalty after he was found taking his mountain bike on a trail close to his home.
According to a report on The Age, Pat Riordan from South-East Melbourne had been riding on his bike for about a quarter of an hour, when he was suddenly pulled over by a police officer who was curious to know what he was doing.
They Didn’t Think They Were Wrong
Riordan had explained that he was driving off to the trail to exercise with his bike. He didn’t feel he had done anything wrong or violated any rules, as exercising was one of the reasons allowed for leaving home.
The officer, who was either oblivious of the lockdown rules or didn’t care, went on to fine him $1,652 for “unnecessary travel,” telling him he should not be outside at all, except for essential purposes.
The fine was eventually rescinded after Pat went public with the situation, according to the report. However, a similar incident happened when a woman around the area was fined for taking driving lessons with her mother.
The woman, 17-year-old Hunter Reynolds, was fined for breaching stage three coronavirus restrictions, as she and her mom had traveled from their home in Hampton to Frankston.
Their trip covered almost 19 miles, and like pat, they were also slapped with a $1,652 fine.
They also confessed that they didn’t think they were wrong at all. “We weren’t in contact with any person, we weren’t stopping anywhere, we weren’t planning on visiting any destinations, we were just learning to drive in those conditions,” Hunter explained. At the same time, her mother confirmed that they would fight the fine in court.
Time to Enforce Clearer Lockdown Guidelines
The case appears to be emblematic of a larger problem – a lot of Australians seem not to know what they can and can’t do in this period. With the Easter period approaching, there will undoubtedly be a lot of people looking to at least get materials to make meals for their families. If they decide to go shopping, they could get fined – even if they adhere to what they believe are reasonable distancing guidelines.
Besides just going out on grocery shopping trips, outdoor activities are even more critical during this lockdown era. After being cooked up at home for days, many people will love the opportunity to get out and become a bit active, even if it’s for a few minutes or hours.
A perfect example of this was found in New Zealand over the weekend. On April 3, the country’s Health Minister, David Clark, was forced to issue an apology to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the people after he was photographed on a mountain biking trail less than 2km from his home.
New Zealand is currently on level 4 lockdown. Still, Clark went out for a mountain biking session, which, as he explained in his apology, wasn’t challenging and was generally used for walking and family activities.
Even more importantly, Clark explained that the biking opportunity was his only chance to get some exercise done during the day. When it’s all said and done, a little bit of outdoor activity will do everyone some good.
Several jurisdictions in the United States understand this and have made some accommodations. Last week, the Office of Maine’s Governor provided an allowance for people to engage in several outdoor activities, even amid the lockdown.