No coronavirus fines issued by police at Black Lives Matter rally in Cairns

Police did not issue a single fine for coronavirus law breaches at the Black Lives Matter protest in the Cairns CBD on Sunday, despite handing out dozens of other fines for COVID-19 breaches in the Cairns region over the past month. 

Queensland Police officers on duty at the Black Lives Matter rally were apparently ordered not to issue fines at the rally where an estimated 3000 people were in attendance.

The rally was a clear breach of social distancing laws, most notably the ban on public gatherings of more than 20 people. 

It was a similar scenario in Brisbane, where zero fines were issued at the 30,000 strong protest in the state's capital. 

The lack of any penalties for the mass gathering on Sunday is in stark contrast to the number of fines issued during May.

Cairns Police told Tropic Now that 32 infringement notices were issued for coronavirus regulation breaches in the Cairns region during the past month, on top of more than 300 fines handed out in the North Queensland region since the COVID-19 lockdowns began in March.

The estimated total cost for fines issued to North Queenslanders since March is around $450,000.

The flouting of coronavirus laws at Sunday's protest march has angered the local hospitality industry, who are struggling for survival while complying with a range of strict lockdown measures.

In the latest phase of government restrictions, restaurants, cafes and bars must undergo intensive COVID-safe training and introduce management plans to accommodate up to 20 people at one time - measures that were clearly not in place at Sunday's Black Lives Matter rally. 

A contributor to the popular Cairns Bartenders Facebook group described the mass gatherings on Sunday as "hypocrisy" with the State Government "giving the green light for one crowd yet crippling an entire industry with limitations" at the same time. 



Black Lives Matter march in Cairns: photo essay by Ash Constable