Police have arrested dozens of people who gathered in Melbourne’s CBD overnight to protest the state’s extended lockdown.
The protest was much smaller than one held a week earlier when the lockdown was initially announced, with police appearing to outnumber those attending.
In a statement, Victoria Police said 73 people were arrested for offences associated with the protest and for breaching the chief health officer’s directions.
“Police had a highly visible presence in the CBD and were pleased that the majority of Victorians did the right thing and stayed home,” a police spokeswoman said.
She said police will not hesitate to fine those who “deliberately and blatantly” breach restrictions.
Last week, Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said anti-lockdown demonstrations were being organised by “serial protesters” looking to advance “strange notions”.
“Of course there were concerned mums and dads, business owners who are very concerned about how the lockout is impacting their lives, how lockdowns impacted businesses,” he said.
“But there is absolutely a hardcore element of people who see this as an opportunity to pick a fight with police.”
While announcing the seven-day extension of Melbourne’s lockdown, Premier Daniel Andrews said he understood the community’s frustration and anger but pleaded with people not to protest.
“Protests do not work against this virus. Screaming and shouting doesn’t work against this virus,” he said on Wednesday.
“This thing has changed on us. It is Delta – it is not what it was last year. It is a different thing.
“The only thing that works is following the rules, playing our part, looking out for each other, and getting tested as soon as we have symptoms.”
Currently, people living in metropolitan Melbourne can only leave home for five reasons and a five-kilometre travel limit applies for shopping and exercise.