Rubber bullets, tear gas at Melbourne lockdown protests . . .
Melbourne, Australia’s second-most populous city and the capital of the of state of Victoria, has endured several days of anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine street protests that have closed highways and pitted armed police against demonstrators. More than 2,000 protesters marched through the city centre today in response to the state government instituting a ‘snap’ two-week lockdown on the construction industry that came into effect on Monday night. Previously, construction workers protested a requirement for all construction workers to have received at least one COVID vaccine dose by this Thursday. Police have arrested hundreds after protests began over the weekend. They have been criticized for aggressive tactics, including the use of rubber bullets and tear gas. More protests are expected on Wednesday.
Changing restrictions . . .
Victoria’s construction industry restrictions follow a recent safety blitz showing about half of the state’s construction sites did not comply with public health requirements. The state’s health minister said there have been more than 400 COVID-19 cases reportedly linked to the industry, including “multiple cases” spreading beyond the Melbourne metropolitan area. Victoria’s restrictions come as the construction industry in Sydney, Australia’s largest city, prepares to move back to full capacity next Monday after having operated at half capacity since August, before which it was shuttered for two weeks. Curiously, Victoria’s premier loosened some restrictions on public movement just days before clamping down on construction, although an overnight curfew for Melbourne remains in place. Sydney remains under a stay-at-home order.
Rolling out vaccines and vaccine passports . . .
Currently, about 48 per cent of eligible Australians are fully vaccinated, while about 73 per cent have received at least one dose. Senior officials have indicated that Australia is working with its overseas missions on a vaccine passport in preparation for opening the country’s borders in the coming months. Plans to gradually open borders once the country hits the threshold of 80 per cent of eligible residents being fully vaccinated remain in place, with projections the threshold will be reached in late November.
- The Age: Construction shutdown sparks huge protest as fault lines exposed
- Australia Broadcasting Corporation: Andrews condemns 'terrible behaviour' as protesters storm through Melbourne's CBD
- The Guardian: Melbourne descends into chaos as police arrest 62 and fire rubber pellets at anti-lockdown protesters