Local councils in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne are suspending or altering their parking restrictions as more residents are forced to stay at home or avoid public transport amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Brisbane City Council announced on Thursday it would be suspending all parking fines, turning off parking meters and reducing parking lot fees in a bid to support those still needing to travel to work during the public health crisis.
"From tomorrow, to help support those still at work, all Brisbane City Council parking meters will be switched-off, making more than 8,000 spaces free of charge," Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner announced on Facebook on Thursday.
"Our two off-street parking stations at King George Square and Wickham Terrace will also have their fees slashed to $5 per day, saving users up to $30 per day.
"In addition, Council parking officers have been asked not to issue fines, except in cases where illegal parking is causing a dangerous situation."
RACQ spokesperson Lauren Ritchie said Brisbane motorists still needed to be aware of other road users, especially emergency vehicles.
“Parking legally is important to ensure traffic can flow smoothly and safely, as well as allow emergency and other critical services to pull over when they need to," Ms Ritchie said.
“If you have had a fine recently, you can appeal through council to challenge the ticket.”
Similarly, Woollahra Municipal Council in Sydney's eastern suburbs said it had turned off parking meters in commercial centres in line with a "reduced demand in our commercial centres for parking as a consequence of business closures".
"It also helps to provide spaces for people living in nearby residential areas who are working from home, for employees who are now travelling by private motor vehicle and for people who are required to self-isolate," a council spokesperson told CarAdvice.
Also in Sydney, Waverley Council (which encompasses the popular Bondi Beach) said it had "instructed its officers to use their discretion and compassion when enforcing parking measures".
"However, we ask that motorists continue to adhere to our existing parking restrictions for the safety of all motorists and pedestrians and to ensure fair access to the availability of parking," a spokesperson said.
Melbourne's Stonnington Council also said it had "relaxed the enforcement of some parking fine infringements while people are required to limit time outdoors and work from home during this unprecedented situation".
This includes decreasing the enforcement of time-limit parking restrictions (green signs) and 'no parking' signs (red signs) related to street-sweeping or near schools. However, all other 'no parking' signs, clearways, 'no stopping' signs and 'zone' signs pertaining to permit, taxi, truck and loading zones would continue to be enforced.
Elsewhere in Melbourne, parking meters in the Hobsons Bay City Council area featured signs advising motorists that payment for parking had been suspended for 90 days.
Meanwhile, Melbourne's Port Phillip Council revealed it had "introduced a 30 minute grace period before parking enforcement applies for timed parking on local streets/parking meters".
The council also said temporary fee waivers were in place and parking officers were showing "high levels of leniency".
The City of Darwin Council told CarAdvice it too had embraced more lenient parking restrictions, initiating free on-street parking in Darwin's CBD in early March to support local businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The local changes come as the UK government announced on Wednesday it would lift parking charges for NHS staff working to fight the coronavirus, after a petition calling for the health workers to receive free parking attracted over 400,000 signatures.
CarAdvice is approaching councils in other states to see whether similar measures are likely to be rolled out.
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