Thousands protest Vic pandemic laws

·2-min read

Thousands of demonstrators have swarmed the steps of Victoria's parliament building to protest against the state government's proposed pandemic laws and mandatory vaccination.

The state recorded 1268 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and seven deaths on Saturday.

Chanting "kill the bill", protesters wielding signs including 'save our children' and 'Vaxtoria' gathered outside parliament from about midday on Saturday.

A woman addressed protesters just after 2pm, saying the Andrews government's proposed bill is "unlawful" and "needs to be invalidated".

Shortly after, a man took to the stage and said "thank you my fellow superspreaders", which was met with applause.

"Tomorrow the hospitals will be full," he said.

"This is only the beginning, this is the start of the people's revolution. We are the counter revolution and we will continue to march."

The protesters say they will march to the governor's residence, and have vowed to return next weekend to hold a similar protest.

The Public Health and Wellbeing (Pandemic Management) Bill 2021 has passed through the lower house.

The laws would give the state premier the power to declare a pandemic and extend emergency conditions for three months at a time, for as long as considered necessary.

However, the legislation will require the backing of three out of 11 crossbenchers to pass through the upper house.

Latest figures show there are 651 Victorians in hospital, of whom 106 are in intensive care including 70 on a ventilator.

Another 65,410 tests were processed on Friday and 15,058 vaccines administered at state-run hubs.

About 82 per cent of people aged over 12 are fully vaccinated.

Stakes Day is underway in Melbourne, with affected venues deep-cleaned after two COVID-19 cases were linked to Tuesday's racing.

A crowd of up to 10,000 was expected for the final day of the carnival.

Health Minister Martin Foley said the Melbourne Cup cases showed Victoria's vaccinated economy system was working and punters should be confident Saturday's meeting will be "safe".

Meanwhile, Victoria's struggling health system will receive $307 million to free up capacity in hospitals and ambulances amid a surge in demand.

The health department is under pressure to release the total number of patients in ICU after it was revealed only infectious patients are being reported in the daily virus numbers.

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