Police arrested 74 people in central Melbourne on Sunday, September 13, after scuffles broke out during a demonstration against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown restrictions. At least 176 other people were issued with on-the-spot fines for violating social distancing measures as police moved to disperse the demonstration at the city's Queen Victoria Market on Sunday afternoon. Protesters had reportedly thrown fruit and other projectiles at police after the small crowd of around 250 people was ordered to disperse, but there were no reports of any injuries from the unrest.
The incident came a day after 14 people were arrested at another anti-lockdown protest in the city on Saturday, with activist groups reported to have planned several such events across the weekend calling for the lifting of restrictions.
Victoria, and Melbourne in particular, has been at the center of Australia's COVID-19 pandemic, with around 75 percent of the country's cases and more than 90 percent of associated deaths occurring in the state. With most of these cases being traced to Melbourne, the city has been under a strict lockdown since the beginning of August. Although the emergency measure has been extended until at least September 28, several measures are due to be eased on Monday, September 14, including a shortening of the overnight curfew by an hour from 20:00 to 21:00 to 05:00 (local time) and the doubling of the amount of time residents are permitted to spend exercising outdoors to two hours per day. A full list of measures in place in the city can be found here.
Further anti-lockdown protests are likely in Melbourne in the near term, with localized disruptions and an increased police presence likely in the vicinity of such demonstrations.
Those in Melbourne are advised to monitor developments, avoid protests and large public gatherings as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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