Melbourne riot police used pepper spray, foam baton rounds and rubber ball grenades to disperse a violent protest against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for construction workers.
More than 1,000 demonstrators wearing work boots and high-visibility jackets rampaged through the centre of Australia’s second-largest city on Tuesday, lighting flares, throwing bottles, attacking police cars and chanting their opposition to vaccines and lockdown restrictions imposed by a Victoria state government mandate.
Victoria state chief police commissioner Shane Patton said at least three police officers had sustained injuries while more than 40 people had been arrested.
The march came a day after riot police were called in to disperse about 500 protesters who smashed the door at the offices of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, which represents construction workers.
On Monday night, the state government announced that the construction industry would be shut down from Tuesday for two weeks in metropolitan Melbourne and some regional areas.
Officials said all worksites will need to demonstrate compliance with health directions prior to reopening, including that staff have had at least one dose of a vaccine before they return to work on October 5.
Victoria state recorded 603 COVID-19 local infections and one death in the past 24 hours.
Meanwhile, virus cases in neighbouring New South Wales state climbed back to 1,022 and 10 COVID-related deaths.
The death toll from the state’s latest Delta outbreak that began in mid-June is 255 people.