Two bushwalkers who became lost in bushland over the weekend have now been hit with COVID-19 fines for breaching public health directions.
The hikers had to call Triple Zero after losing their way in the Coree area, sparking a full-scale search and rescue mission.
The 28-year-old man and 24-year-old woman called the emergency line at about 4:25 pm on Saturday (21 August).
While the bushwalkers were able to provide police with their location coordinates, the thickness of the bushland meant Search and Rescue (SAR) personnel had to be deployed to locate them, with assistance from ACT State Emergency Service (SES) personnel.
The hikers were found about four hours later and were guided from the area by the SAR team before leaving the area in their own vehicle.
The ordeal, however, was far from over – both hikers have been fined for breaching COVID-19 public health directions as their hike was for more than the one-hour duration currently permitted for outdoor exercise.
Officer in Charge ACT Road Policing, Detective Inspector Donna Hofmeier said the incident diverted police away from other important work as Road Policing officers were called to assist the hikers.
“These people went looking for a loophole in the COVID-19 regulations and will receive a fine for breaching the public health directions,” Detective Inspector Hofmeier said.
“The COVID rules in the ACT are clear. They allow for one hour of outdoor exercise a day. These people had planned a 12-kilometre hike, which would obviously take more than an hour to complete.
“They were insufficiently equipped for it, making it almost inevitable things would go wrong. Once they called for help, considerable police and emergency service resources were required to locate them and get them to safety.
“I hope this serves as a lesson, not just to these hikers, but to the whole community at this time.”