- Police make arrests in Melbourne protests
- Victoria’s daily increase in cases is largest this year
- Sydney cancels New Years Eve fireworks for the second time
SYDNEY, Sept.22 (Reuters) – Police deployed to the center of Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne, on Wednesday in an effort to keep a lid on a third day of protests against COVID lockdown restrictions -19, as the state of Victoria recorded a further increase in infections.
Police made more than 60 arrests on Tuesday after more than 2,000 protesters damaged property, blocked a busy highway and injured three police officers after authorities shut down construction sites for two weeks to limit the spread of the sickness. Read more
Protesters again gathered in groups roaming the city streets on Wednesday despite calls to stay home, but largely avoided clashes with buses laden with police officers, while the state police chief, Shane Patton, has vowed to prevent further violence.
“I’m not going to talk about the tactics we’re going to deploy today,” Patton told media in Melbourne. “I want them to have no idea what we’re going to do and what capacity they may be facing. “
By early afternoon, television footage showed several hundred protesters had gathered at the Shrine of Remembrance, a memorial near the city center honoring the war service, under police surveillance.
“There have been a few arrests,” Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent told 3AW radio station.
The protests followed a decision by the authorities to make vaccines compulsory for construction workers and to impose the closure of construction sites from Tuesday, citing non-compliance with health rules.
Authorities and union officials said extremist and far-right groups joined the protest.
“There were people there who you thought were in the construction industry. There were others who weren’t… Daniel Andrews.
Protesters refused to speak to reporters at the scene, chanting “fake news” when approached, media said.
Australia’s largest cities of Sydney and Melbourne, as well as its capital, Canberra, have been stranded for weeks to contain an outbreak of Delta.
This is the sixth lockdown for Melbourne, the most Australian cities since the start of the pandemic.
Authorities aim to resume daily activities in Sydney and Melbourne on a phased basis, easing some brakes when the share of fully vaccinated adults in the population reaches 70%, which is expected next month.
Further relaxations will follow when the figure reaches 80%.
Some 54% of people aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated in the most populous state of New South Wales and 45% in Victoria.
Despite the easing talks, Sydney has canceled plans for a traditional New Years Eve fireworks display at 9 p.m. for the second year in a row, but will likely stick to plans for a fireworks display. separate fireworks at midnight.
A city spokesperson said authorities aimed to limit the “mixing of crowds” between the two.
Victoria recorded 628 new infections on Wednesday, the largest single-day increase of the year, surpassing the previous high of 603 the day before. New South Wales, whose capital is Sydney, recorded a total of 1,035 new infections, up from 1,022 on Tuesday.
Australia’s infection tally stands at around 90,300, including 1,186 deaths, with eight new deaths reported.
Report by Renju José; Edited by Richard Pullin
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