Victoria Police said several people have been arrested after hundreds of people protested to be vaccinated by Friday.
After the anti-vaccine protests in Melbourne turned into violent incidents and the surge in COVID-19 cases in Victoria and New South Wales (NSW), Australian authorities have closed construction sites in Melbourne for two weeks.
The shutdown took effect on Tuesday, after a conflict of throwing bottles and crates at union officials occurred, and the police deployed special forces.
The Victorian government requires all construction workers to receive at least one dose of the vaccine before Friday.
State Labor Relations Minister Tim Pallas said in a statement on Monday night: “We notified the industry a week ago. We have seen shocking behavior on the scene and on the streets. Now we are Act decisively and without hesitation.”
Victorian police said that “several people” were arrested in the riots.
The forced closure of construction sites will worsen the country’s economic activity. Some economists predict that the extended blockade may plunge Australia’s 2 trillion Australian dollars (1.45 trillion US dollars) economy into its second recession in years.
Australia has blocked its largest cities Sydney and Melbourne, as well as the capital Canberra, to quell the outbreak of the highly contagious delta virus.
But strict restrictions triggered anti-blockade rallies, and the police arrested hundreds of people in these two cities over the weekend.
Area closed and reopened
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, in New South Wales, after 1,022 cases and 10 deaths were reported in the state, on Tuesday afternoon, at least three district councils — Byron, Kempsey and Tweed — Was ordered to restore the blockade.
“Unfortunately, we have had some cases in the northern part of the state,” New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard was quoted as saying on Tuesday morning.
In hospitals in New South Wales, there are at least 1,266 active COVID-19 cases, of which 244 are in the intensive care unit.
The crowd swelled. pic.twitter.com/b3MnG1Z2Gn
— Patrick Murrell (@pamurrell) September 21, 2021
At the same time, as the vaccination rate has soared, the authorities have begun to relax some strict restrictions on outdoor gatherings and exercise in Sydney and Melbourne. Once 70% to 80% of adults are fully vaccinated, residents will have more freedom.
So far, 53% of people in New South Wales, where Sydney is located, have been fully vaccinated, compared to 44% in Victoria.
On Tuesday, Victoria detected 603 new cases, the largest one-day increase this year and surpassed the high of 567 cases the day before. The state recorded another death.
Even with the delta outbreak, Australia’s COVID-19 numbers are still lower than many comparable countries, with 87,700 cases and 1,168 deaths.