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Melbourne Covid: Protesters swarm city before lockdown kicks in

Several hundred protesters gathered outside Melbourne’s iconic Flinders Street Station as Victoria was plunged into its fifth lockdown.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced late Thursday, Victoria will shut down for five days as a cluster of Covid-19 cases grew to 18.

Before lockdown, hundreds took to the streets protesting and calling for the premier to be sacked.

Many chanted “sack Andrews” as they carried signs which read “lockdowns kill”, “freedom” and “a real pandemic needs no advertisement”, as well as anti vaccine messages.

Anti-lockdown protestors are seen during a protest in the Melbourne CBD, Melbourne.
Anti-lockdown protestors outside Flinders Street Station on Thursday. Source: AAP
Anti-lockdown protestors are seen during a protest in the Melbourne CBD, Melbourne.
Hundreds turned up for the protests which resulted in no arrests. Source: AAP

A flare was lit as they marched to parliament. Police confirmed no arrests were made.

Despite calls for them to stay home and stop the spread of Covid-19, on Facebook the protesters argued “enough is enough”.

“No more lockdowns,” one man wrote.

“Time to rise up and say no more. We’ve had enough.”

Lockdown began on Thursday at 11.59pm and is anticipated to last five days.

'We've got no choice'

Mr Andrews said he hopes it will be a “short, sharp” lockdown but would not rule out extending it beyond 11.59pm Tuesday.

"It may be longer because it depends on what every Victorian does," Mr Andrews said, adding some parts of regional Victoria could be freed earlier if it is deemed safe.

The premier said the state's contact tracers were moving faster than ever but haven't been able to keep up with the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant.

"We've got no choice. We don't want this getting away from us and being locked down for months," he said.

Anti-lockdown protestors are seen during a protest in the Melbourne CBD, Melbourne.
Victoria will enter its fifth lockdown since the pandemic began. Source: AAP

Most of the cases are connected to NSW removalists who breached their worker permit conditions and spread the virus during a drop-off at the Ariele Apartments in Maribyrnong late last week.

A Victoria Police spokesman told AAP it was helping to establish the three-person crew's movements as part of a health department investigation.

Mr Andrews would not be drawn on whether Victoria's lockdown could have been avoided if Sydney had locked down sooner.

"I can't control what happens and doesn't happen in NSW," he said.

"These cases started in NSW, but I'm determined they will end here."

The final straw for authorities was three cases of suspected "stranger-to-stranger transmission" at an AFL match between Carlton and Geelong at the MCG on Saturday.

A positive case also attended the international rugby clash between the Wallabies and France at AAMI Park on Tuesday night, with stadium management working with health officials to identify close contacts.

There are more than 110 exposures sites dotted across Melbourne and regional Victoria, including the MCG and several stores at Chadstone shopping centre.

with AAP

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