Childers police officer Sergeant Geoff Fay is calling on locals and visitors to do the right thing.
Childers police officer Sergeant Geoff Fay is calling on locals and visitors to do the right thing. Scottie Simmonds BUN150611GEF6

Why there's no need to panic amid Victorian tourist fears

A CHILDERS police officer is calling for calm but also caution as rumours of Victorian tourists sneaking into Woodgate run rife on social media.

Earlier this week, social media posts circulated, claiming Victorians had sneakily hopped between borders to hide out in the seaside suburb, which has a large number of retired residents.

But Childers police Officer in Charge Sergeant Geoff Fay says there plenty of people travelling in the area with Victorian number plates, but it doesn't mean there here illegally.

On Monday, Sgt Fay headed to the Woodgate holiday park to check in on vehicles with Victorian plates, but so far every one had a reasonable explanation.

"We went through the park and checked every vehicle," Sgt Fay said.

The first vehicle was a holiday van registered in Victoria but hired in Brisbane, the family travelling in it had gone up to Agnes and were on their way back down to the capital.

Sgt Fay said another had belonged to an elderly couple who had travelled from a border town on the Queensland New South Wales border and had been through all the correct processes.

Another man had been in town for a lengthy period of time.

A sedan with a Victorian number plate belonged to a Queenslander, but was registered in Victoria.

Sgt Fay said police would be continuing to carry out checks in the region.

At time of writing, the original social media post claiming Victorian travellers had headed to Woodgate had almost 5000 shares on Facebook.

It's a worrying trend that Sgt Fay would like to see less of.

Sgt Fay said police wanted the public to be vigilant and to report concerns, but it was not helpful to post on social media without following the correct channels.

"We never, ever got this job from Facebook," he said.

Woodgate Beach.
Woodgate Beach. Mike Knott

Sgt Fay said there was a similar situation when COVID-19 first broke out in the region, and a house full of backpackers with Victorian number plates on their vehicles had been the subject of concern.

Investigations revealed the foreign workers were within their rights and had simply wanted to rent a house to safely wait out the pandemic.

In a seaside town with a large retirement community, Sgt Fay says it's natural and important to be worried and concerned, but that the proper channels are where queries should be directed, not the "hearsay stuff".

"A lot of aged people would be susceptible and there's a great deal of concern in the community," he said.

Police are now gearing up for an influx of interstate travellers as Queensland prepares to open its borders to all states and territories expect Victoria at midday tomorrow.

"People can expect to see a large number of vehicles with interstate registrations on them," Sgt Fay said.

Anyone travelling to Queensland will face scrutiny, and an immediate $4000 fine applies for giving false information.
"If someone makes a false declaration it's a pretty serious offence," he said.

Sgt Fay called for travellers to do the right thing.

With proper precautions, we'll get on top of it, but he says if people are dishonest and don't follow basic rules, there'll be hot spots all over the country.

Sgt Fay's simple advice for keeping everyone safe is to wash hands, use hand sanitiser, practice social distancing and call Police Link on 131 444 rather than posting to "unvetted Facebook pages".

"If people do the right thing, we should be able to get over this," he said.

An NRMA Parks and Resorts spokesperson, on behalf of the NRMA WoodGate Beach Holiday Park, said the organisation remained vigilant and adhering to all Queensland guidelines.

"With strict border controls in place any Victorians currently holidaying in Queensland must adhere to border restrictions and sign a declaration to verify that they did not come from overseas or any hot spots in the past 14 days," they said.

"If guests reside in or have visited COVID-19 lockdown areas identified by the Victorian Government in the last 14 days, they are not able to travel to our parks at this time.

"We have a number of measures in place to ensure the safety of guests and staff including contactless check-in, extra cleaning practices and social distancing rules in shared spaces." 

Meanwhile, Bundaberg police officers have been busy performing checks on passengers arriving at the Bundaberg Airport.

A spokeswoman for Bundaberg police said so far everyone had been compliant and doing the right thing.