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MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Over 200 people were arrested in Australia’s Melbourne and Sydney as protests against the COVID-19 lockdown turned violent and escalated into clashes with law enforcement officers on Saturday, police reported.
Melbourne saw over 4,000 people protesting an extension of the lockdown, and more than 200 demonstrators were arrested after they clashed with police. Six officers were hospitalised, and one more was treated on the site for a wound that did not require hospitalisation. The majority of the protesters came “with violence in mind” and behaved “hostile and aggressive,” the Victoria police stated.
In Sydney, 47 people were arrested and 261 Penalty Infringement Notices were issued for protesters, the police said. In view of the protests, taxis and other passenger services were ordered to stay away from the Sydney Central Business District, and over 1,500 police officers were deployed to the site. According to the Metropolitan Field Operations Commander, Mal Lanyon, about “38,000 vehicles were checked at 14 designated traffic points stationed on major roads leading into the city centre.”
”We saw the community backlash after the last protest and that was a genuine reflection of how they saw the actions of a small minority,” NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said. The minister also thanked every police officer involved in today’s operation for protecting the majority who abide by the orders on public health.
The Australian authorities are aiming to vaccinate 70-80% of the population, but even afterwards, some restrictions will remain. At the moment, only 29.6% of citizens have been fully vaccinated, and 58.8% have gotten the first shot.