By Lidia Kelly
MELBOURNE (Reuters) -Australia’s police arrested 235 people in Melbourne and 32 in Sydney on Saturday at unsanctioned anti-lockdown rallies and several police officers were injured in clashes with protesters.
Six officers were hospitalized by the Victoria Police. The police reported that several officers were crushed and trampled by the intruders.
Around 700 people managed gather in Melbourne’s central area, where 2,000 officers created a zone of no-go zones, setting up checkpoints, and barricades. All public transportation and rideshares into the city were stopped.
In Sydney, officers from the riot squad and highway patrol as well as detectives and other general police personnel were sent to the streets. This prevented large-scale gatherings.
Since mid-June in Australia, there has been an epidemic of coronavirus Delta. This virus is currently affecting Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. The majority of coronavirus-related cases were reported in Sydney on Saturday.
Restrictions in Victoria, New South Wales, and Canberra must be maintained until at minimum 70% of all those aged 16 or older have been fully vaccinated. Based on current inoculations, this could mean that the restriction will continue in place in November.
Australia’s high compliance rate with health regulations has kept the incidence of infection low. There have been just over 85,000 cases of illness and only 1,145 deaths from the pandemic.
While the majority of Australians are supportive of vaccinations and other public health measures, there has been some violent and sporadic protests regarding the handling of the pandemic.
Victoria Police released a statement saying that it was disappointing to witness another example where a minority in the community showed a total disregard for the safety and health not only of police but also of each other Victorian.
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