Anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne
Police in Melbourne prepared for a fourth day of anti-lockdown protests on Thursday and a vaccination hub in the city closed after protesters allegedly abused staff, while Covid-19 cases across the state of Victoria hit a daily record.
Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets in the city of 5 million since officials earlier this week ordered a two-week closure of building sites and made vaccines mandatory for construction workers to limit the spread of the virus.
Police used capsicum spray and foam baton rounds on Wednesday to disperse protesters who gathered at a memorial honouring war service, prompting veteran groups and some politicians to speak out against using the shrine as a rally point.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews says the state will ease lockdown rules by the end of the month, to allow people to return from Sydney and quarantine at home if they are fully vaccinated.
Australia is fighting a third wave of infections from an outbreak of the Delta variant in its two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, and its capital Canberra, forcing nearly half the country’s 25 million people into strict stay-at-home restrictions.
Around 60,000 cases have been recorded since June when the first Delta case was detected in Sydney. Total deaths are just below 1,200, but still lower than in many other wealthy countries.