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Mayor fined for breaching coronavirus restrictions after drinking beer in street

Mayor fined for breaching coronavirus restrictions after drinking beer in street

A mayor in south-west Victoria has been fined for breaching coronavirus restrictions after he was photographed drinking beer with two men on a public street.

Warrnambool mayor Tony Herbert was seen drinking beer outside the Whalers Hotel in the city’s main street on the evening of April 7, hours after he recorded a video for the council’s social media pages urging people to stay home.

Herbert was fined $1,652 for breaching the Chief Health Officer’s directives forbidding non-essential activities and gatherings of more than two people.

Herbert apologised in a statement released on Thursday, saying he had mistakenly believed his “actions to engage with business owners as part of my mayoral role was within the bounds of the law”.

“However, I realise that I had inadvertently breached the new laws to keep the community safe,” Herbert said.

“I am genuinely sorry for my actions.”

Herbert said he would not resign as a mayor, and that the messages of support from fellow councillors, the community and business owners had “further strengthened my resolve to do a better job”.

In a previous statement released earlier this week, Herbert defended his actions, saying his “unplanned” contact with the business owners was part of his “mayoral duty”.

“The conversations I had with the business owners were part of my job,” he said. “It is important for any mayor, where reasonable and safe to do so, to find out first-hand about the state of their city.”