Hundreds arrested during anti-lockdown protests in Australia

At least seven police officers were treated for injuries after skirmishes broke out

Australian police clashed with anti-lockdown protesters in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane as the authorities reported 894 new cases across Australia, the country's highest ever single-day rise. Video: Reuters

 

More than 250 people have been arrested during protests against coronavirus lockdowns in Australia and many face fines for defying health orders, authorities said.

At least seven police officers were treated for injuries after skirmishes broke out at some of the protests, which took place in cities nationwide.

The largest and most violent protest was in Melbourne.

Sydney has been in lockdown for two months, while Melbourne and the capital Canberra went into lockdown earlier this month.

Under the rules of the lockdown, people are mostly confined to their homes and have limits placed on social interactions.

Despite the measures, Sydney’s New South Wales state reported a record 825 new daily community infections on Saturday.

Several cities are battling outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Protesters say the lockdowns should end, but authorities say they are necessary to suppress the spread of the virus and save lives.

In Melbourne, a crowd of about 4,000 mostly unmasked protesters let off flares, shouted and blasted music. Victoria state police arrested 218 people and issued more than 200 fines, each for more than AU$5,400 (€3,300) .

Six Victoria state police officers were taken to hospital and three people remained in custody for allegedly assaulting police. Officers used pepper spray on several people, saying in a statement they were left with no choice.

In New South Wales, police said they arrested 47 people and fined more than 260 in relation to protests across the state.

They also issued 137 tickets after stopping around 38,000 cars approaching the city.

State police said a 32-year-old man who allegedly assaulted an officer was arrested and they expected to file charges.

The officer was taken to hospital for head and neck injuries, authorities said.

New South Wales Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon said police expected to identify more people through CCTV and social media footage.

More than 2,000 people also gathered in Brisbane City Botanic Gardens to rally against the lockdown and vaccine measures, although Queensland state police said they did not make any arrests. – AP