POLICE closed the road to Mount Macedon’s memorial cross as visitors ignored council warnings not to visit the autumn leaves displays on the weekend.
Hundreds of visitors ignored state and federal government recommendations to stay home due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and visited Macedon’s Avenue of Honour and nearby open gardens.
Latest data from the Department of Health and Human Services shows that five residents of the Macedon Ranges Shire have confirmed cases of COVID-19 – a small percentage of Victoria’s 821 cases.
Large electronic signs have been installed on the Calder Freeway and nearby roads, urging visitors to avoid the area.
Macedon Ranges Shire Council has also closed nearby Hanging Rock Reserve to public access.
Council has been discouraging visitation to the area this year and is not running free buses on the autumn leaves route or providing visitor information services.
Traffic management staff are in place near the Avenue of Honour and Centennial Park to ensure any traffic flows efficiently through the area, and council’s local laws officers are enforcing parking restrictions.
Police will regularly patrol the area to ensure visitors are not gathering in groups in public areas at Macedon and Mount Macedon, or flouting social distancing regulations.
Police are able to issue on-the-spot fines to individuals and businesses who do not follow containment measures.
Premier Daniel Andrews implemented stage three restrictions, which started this morning, where Victorians face on-the-spot fines of more than $1600 if they breach restrictions that limit gatherings to just two people.
Council chief executive Margot Stork said council was disappointed visitors had continued to flock to the area despite warnings to stay away and clear signage along the routes to the area.
“We are all for people getting some fresh air and exercise, but there is no need for tourists to travel long distances to the area to do so,” Ms Stork said.
“Normally we welcome visitors but with the current pandemic it is not appropriate. The advice is quite clear – stay home and stay safe.”
Each year thousands of tourists descend on the Macedon and Mount Macedon area to view the changing autumn leaves in the area.