Mackay District Police Inspector Ian Haughton.
Mackay District Police Inspector Ian Haughton.

Dine out but don’t push the crowd-number limits

COUNCIL and police will tag-team compliance checks as eased COVID-19 restrictions for cafes and restaurants come into force this weekend.

Mackay Police District Inspector Ian Haughton said patrols would check crowd numbers in venues to ensure they complied with the maximum of 10 people inside at any time, while monitoring numbers in public spaces.

But enforcement could be a sticking point, with Mayor Greg Williamson suggesting the 14 local laws officers under council's control would work to educate the public rather than issue fines.

Blatant and wilful disregard of the rules would result in enforcement action though, Cr Williamson said.

"Our local laws officers do a fantastic job in our community," he said.

"And now they're expected to be policemen. What's concerning to me is I don't want our local laws officers to be subjected to any belligerence from the community and where that happens, police will be called.

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    "The message I hope to get out is 'don't get frustrated and … if you're one of the lucky 10 in any place (restaurant or cafe), don't hog that domain'."

    Mackay district police have issued 88 fines since April 6 for non-compliance with the Chief Health Officer's directions during the pandemic.

    Insp. Haughton said from this weekend, five people from difference residences could gather outside homes but large groups were "still off the agenda".

    "Ten people can gather in public spaces for the purpose of fitness or a picnic, people can travel up to 150km for a day trip," he said.

    "The community in the Mackay district has been very good with compliance with those directions.

    "Police will be doing some patrols in and about (cafes, restaurants) those places when they open up to educate people and to ensure we don't get overcrowding."