Two paramedics pulled up for a meal at an Australian KFC restaurant in the Melbourne suburb of Victoria early Friday morning when they noticed something suspicious.
A pair of customers had ordered about 20 takeaways at 1:30 a.m.
The substantial order has raised eyebrows because large parts of Victoria are currently back on lockdown following a sudden dramatic surge in coronavirus cases in the last few days. The second state lockdown will last for six weeks, with large gatherings strictly prohibited and people allowed to leave their homes for essential reasons.
Paramedics, or “ambos” as Australians call them, were suspicious and therefore spoke with KFC staff.
They then alerted the police to the license plate of the customers’ car, and the officers followed the vehicle to an address in the suburb of Dandenong.
In a house, they found two people asleep in a front room – but 16 others who had celebrated a birthday party were hiding in the back.
The take-out chicken had been ordered to feed the hungry guests.
“It is absolutely ridiculous, this type of behavior,” Victoria Chief Police Commissioner Shane Patton said. journalists at a press conference on Friday.
All 16 revelers were fined – a total of AU $ 26,000, or nearly US $ 18,000.
“It’s a very expensive night,” Patton said.
“It’s one hell of a birthday party to remember,” he added, “and they will remember this one for a long time.”
As New Zealand, Australia had seen a relatively low number of coronavirus cases during the pandemic, but last week infections suddenly increased, mainly in Melbourne, the country’s second largest city.
Residents are now urged by Head of State Prime Minister Daniel Andrews to wear masks in public as Victoria taped her largest daily increase in coronavirus cases Friday, with 288 COVID-19 infections diagnosed in 24 hours.
Commissioner Patton said revelers weren’t the only ones being fined overnight.
Four sex workers were fined at a brothel that still received clients, as was a couple who twice attempted to drive to their vacation home against orders to stay at their main home.
“This type of conduct, this type of blatant, obvious and deliberate disregard for the directives of the chief health officer, we will enforce,” Patton said.