Hundreds of protesters clashed with the police in the Australian state of Victoria over restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the capital city of Melbourne, 74 people were arrested on Sunday and 176 infringement notices were issued for violating lockdown regulations which require residents to remain at home other than for essential reasons, reports Xinhua news agency.
Roughly 250 people attended the largest demonstration at Queen Victoria Market, with many in the crowd becoming aggressive towards officers, and one person charged with assaulting police.
A spokesperson for Victoria Police said that as long as it remains unlawful for residents to leave their homes to protest, those who do will be held accountable.
“It was extremely disappointing to see people not just protesting, but putting the lives of other Victorians at risk despite all the warnings,” the spokesperson said.
Victoria, the worst-hit state by the pandemic in the country, has remained in stage 4 lockdown for roughly the past six weeks, with restrictions expected to last for at least another month.
Premier Daniel Andrews said that despite the difficulties involved and impact on residents and the economy, maintaining strict social distancing was the only way to contain the virus.
On Monday, Victoria reported 35 new coronavirus deaths — the lowest number in a 24-hour period since late June.
Of the country’s total 26,651 coronavirus cases, Victoria now accounts for 19,835 infections.
Australia’s Covid-19 death toll currently stood at 810, of which 723 were reported in Victoria.