Anti-lockdown protest in Australia turns violent as 15 arrested

Australian police have made dozens of arrests as anti-lockdown protests are attended by hundreds in Melbourne.

Protesters were heard chanting ‘human rights matter’ and ‘freedom’ as they marched down the street.

Stricter measures were put in place in the country’s’ coronavirus hotspot, many turned out to protest the city’s stage four lockdown while ignoring social-distancing restrictions.

Smaller protests have been reported to have taken place in other Australian cities including, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

Victoria Police said they have made 15 arrests – 14 for breaking lockdown rules and one for assaulting an officer – and issued more than 150 fines for similar breaches of Covid-19 restrictions.

Confirmed cases in the country have more than tripled over the past two months to 26,000 confirmed cases, as deaths rise to 748 from 104 over the same period.

As cases increased, lockdown measures tightened. Since July, Victoria has been in a six-week lockdown to curb Australia’s second-wave, banning businesses and imposing stay-at-home rules.

Victoria accounts for 75% of Australia’s total infections and 90% of deaths.

In response to the protests, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said: ‘It is not safe, it is not smart, it is not lawful. In fact, it is absolutely selfish for people to be out there protesting. The only protest we should be engaged in, the only argument, the only fight we should be engaged in, is against this virus.

‘Let’s not any of us do anything that might jeopardise this strategy. Let’s not any of us do anything that might see more coronavirus cases rather than less.’

‘No-one is really advocating to open and be open for just a few weeks, and if you open at these levels that is exactly what would happen.

‘It would be five minutes of sunshine and then a third wave that arguably would be even more devastating, than the second. We just have to find a way, to be as steadfast as the virus, it is stubborn.

‘The tail of the second wave is a stubborn thing and we are seeing these numbers come down,’ he said.

‘Well this is a health problem in the first instance and until you fix the health problem, there can be no economic repair, there can be no, none of the recovery that we absolutely want, and if you just break that down it makes perfect sense.

‘You can’t repair the damage that this pandemic has done to our economy in two weeks or a month. You need a set of stable settings, you need arrangements that can last,’ he added.

Premier Andrews is due to outline plans on Sunday September 6 for easing Melbourne’s stage 4 restrictions.

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