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Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Melbourne's CBD on Thursday night after Premier Daniel Andrews announced the city would be plunged into its sixth lockdown just hours earlier.
Wednesday's celebrations in response to a 'doughnut day' were short-lived, with the state recording eight new local cases on Thursday, prompting health officials to impose stringent measures on its more than six million residents as the threat of the highly-infectious Delta variant looms once again.
Protesters, some carrying placards and most not wearing masks, gathered at Flinders Street about 7pm on Thursday and moved into Swanston Street as police in masks gathered to try to disperse them.
Fifteen people were arrested by police, with four expected to be charged.
Officers also issued fines to 16 others on Thursday night for breaching coronavirus restrictions including exceeding the public gathering limit, failing to wear a mask, being more than 5km from home and being away from home other than for a permitted purpose.
Flares were lit and the crowd chanted "no more lockdowns," the Herald Sun reported while residents of nearby apartments shouted "Go home, idiots".
Videos on Twitter feeds showed police on foot and horseback fronting the crowd, and a line of officers shoulder-to-shoulder on the steps of Flinders Street Station.
— Jules (@JulesAnthonyCo) August 5, 2021
One video showed two officers using handheld devices to spray protesters with what appears to be pepper spray.
One protester shouted "COVID is fake" and another said he was angered by Victoria's sixth lockdown.
"We can't keep going through this, we are losing our livelihoods," the man from Melbourne's southeast told the Herald Sun.
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said police were "outraged" over the small minority who continue to do the wrong thing amid the pandemic.
Police say one officer was pushed to the ground and kicked by several offenders, suffering minor cuts in the incident.
Victorians are under the same rules that applied during last month's lockdown, including the five reasons to leave home, the five-kilometre travel limit for exercise and shopping, and compulsory masks indoors and outdoors.
The restrictions came into effect at 8pm on Thursday.
Premier Daniel Andrews said he was left with "no choice" but to impose the restrictions and said the decision was "incredibly painful".
Thousands of businesses have been forced to shut again, as the state government faces criticism that not enough warning was given before Thursday's announcement.
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