Melbourne has seen “chaos” just hours before the state plunged into its fifth lockdown as hundreds of protesters took to the streets in anger.
Residents marched in the CBD calling for an end to restrictions just hours after premier Daniel Andrews announced the state will enter a five-day snap lockdown from midnight.
“We’ve got to do this, otherwise it will get away with us and we, as more than any other part of our nation know, we don’t want this getting away from us and being locked down for months,” Mr Andrews said.
“We want to deal with this with a short, sharp, lockdown, decisive action, not waiting, not dawdling, now is our time.”
Currently the state has 18 cases while at least 6500 residents have been forced into isolation as close contacts. The state’s Department of Health announced new exposure sites overnight as the protesters filled Melbourne’s CBD to oppose the new lockdown rules at around 7pm.
Signs read “I have a choice” and “lockdown kills”, with face masks missing among the crowd.
7 News reporter Estelle Griepink posted footage of protesters chanting “sack Dan Andrews” on the steps of Flinders Street Station while some commuters “walked past shaking their heads”.
They marched from Flinders Street Station to Parliament House chanting” freedom” accompanied by a large police presence.
“We’ve spoken to plenty of people today who say they are frustrated but understand these measures are necessary,” Griepink said.
Actress Nicola Charles, known her iconic role as Sarah Beaumont in soap opera Neighbours, also hailed the protests.
One protester on social media described lockdown as “human rights abuses” and called it a “great turnout”, bragging there are a “couple thousand people here”, claiming they are “just regular every day people who have had enough.
“I’ve got friends who that are really frustrated and on the verge of their businesses going a really bad way.
“As it stands at the moment so many people have lost their businesses, their homes, their families ripped apart.
“We pay the price.”
In more footage, one speaker yells: “Here we go again. Once again, Daniel Andrews has jumped at his own shadow and thrown millions of people’s lives into chaos because he has no faith in his own contact tracers and no faith in our healthcare system. That’s the only possible explanation.”
Victoria Police told news.com.au no arrests or fines were issued and they are “yet” to identify the person responsible for lighting a flare.
“There was a protest at Flinders Street about 7pm this evening,” a spokesperson said.
“Protesters gave speeches and marched to Parliament.
“A flare was lit while the group moved from Flinders Street to Parliament.
“Police are yet to identify who was responsible.
“There were no arrests.”
Anti lockdown protesters march to Parliament House in Melbourne accompanied by a large police presence. (Photo / NCA)
Anti lockdown protesters march from Flinders Street Station to Parliament House in Melbourne accompanied by a large police presence. (Photo / NCA)
(Photo / NCA)
Victorians will only be allowed to leave home for a few reasons, with Mr Andrews defending his decision to lock the state down, saying they must “go hard” in order to contain the highly infectious Delta variant.
“You only get one chance to go hard and go fast. If you wait, if you hesitate, if you doubt, then you will always be looking back wishing you had done more earlier,” he said.
“I am not prepared to avoid a five-day lockdown now only to find ourselves in a five-week or a five-month lockdown.
“That is why we are making this very difficult decision and why I know Victorians will, despite the pain and difficulty of this, know and understand there is no option.”
- Matt Young, news.com.au