Coronavirus: Arrests at Australia anti-lockdown protests

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Australian police have made dozens of arrests amid anti-lockdown protests attended by hundreds nationwide.

In Melbourne, the centre of Australia's outbreak, about 300 people marched in defiance of tough measures that have been in place for a month.

Smaller protests took place in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

On Friday PM Scott Morrison said seven of the country's eight states had agreed to open their internal borders by December.

He suggested an eventual travel bubble with New Zealand could boost tourism and help revive the economy.

"In the absence of a vaccine, we may have to live this way for years," he warned.

Confirmed virus cases in Australia have more than tripled to over 26,000 over the past two months, with deaths rising to 748 from 104 over the same period.

What happened at the protests?

In Melbourne protesters chanted "freedom" and "human rights matter" amid a heavy police presence.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews was also singled out – "We are in a city where the cure from Daniel Andrews is actually worse than what's happening," protester Fiona Kat told AFP.

Police said they had made 15 arrests – 14 for breaching lockdown rules and one for assaulting a police officer who received lacerations to the head. They also issued more than 150 fines for lockdown breaches.

police grapple a protesterimage copyrightEPA

Mr Andrews condemned the event – "It is not safe, it is not smart, it is not lawful. In fact, it is absolutely selfish for people to be out there protesting," he told reporters.

There were smaller rallies elsewhere, including two in Sydney and one in Byron Bay that turned violent, according to local media. Police made 14 arrests, including three people suspected of assaulting police officers.

The protests were largely driven by fringe online groups promoting virus-related and anti-vaccination conspiracy theories.

Police had earlier drawn criticism for the arrest of a pregnant woman for promoting the protest online. On Friday officers broke into the home of a former bodybuilder and conspiracy theorist who had also been calling for people to join the event.

Why does Melbourne have such a strict lockdown?

Victoria has been in a six-week lockdown since July to curb a coronavirus outbreak that has fuelled Australia's second wave. Authorities have imposed stay-at-home rules and a curfew in Melbourne, the state capital. The lockdown has closed many businesses and banned gatherings around the state.

Victoria accounts for 75% of Australia's total infections and 90% of all deaths. The state reported 11 deaths on Saturday and more than 70 new infections – down from the peak of 725 new infections on 5 August but more than health officials had hoped for five weeks after the restrictions came in.

melbourne protesterimage copyrightEPA

On Sunday Mr Andrews iRead More – Source