Thousands of workers march through Melbourne after government suddenly shuts down all construction work

·2-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Construction workers have clashed with police in locked down Melbourne after the government closed building sites across the city for two weeks.

Crowds of builders turned on riot police forcing officers to flee after authorities made the controversial move, blaming the frequent movement of workers for spreading the coronavirus into rural areas.

The protestors marched down a West State highway bringing traffic to a standstill.

An anti-vaccine mandate protest in the city turned violent on Monday with workers bombarding a union building with glass bottles after they ordered workers to get a jab or face losing their job.

The Victorian government requires all construction workers to have at least one vaccine dose by end of this week.

“The public health team was left with no choice but to hit the pause button and continue to work with the sector over the next two weeks to improve compliance ... and slow the spread of the virus,” state Health Minister Martin Foley told reporters.

Footage on social media showed protesters smashing up police cars, setting up flares and chanting, with mounted police and officers in riot gear following them.

The forced closures of construction sites will worsen the country’s economic activity with some economists predicting the extended lockdowns may push Australia’s A$2 trillion ($1.45 trillion) economy into a second recession in as many years.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Australia has locked down Sydney and Melbourne, its largest cities, and the capital Canberra to quell an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant. But these tough restrictions have triggered anti-lockdown rallies with police arresting hundreds in both cities over the weekend.

A total of 603 new cases were detected in Victoria on Tuesday, the year’s biggest daily rise, eclipsing the previous high of 567 a day earlier, and one new death was recorded.

Authorities, meanwhile, have begun to ease some tough restrictions on outdoor gatherings and exercise in Sydney and Melbourne as vaccination rates surge, with more freedom promised once dual-dose levels in the adult population reach 70-80 per cent.

So far, 53 per cent in New South Wales state, home to Sydney, have been fully vaccinated while the coverage is 44 per cent in Victoria.

New South Wales reported 1,022 new infections, the majority in state capital Sydney, up from 935 on Monday, and 10 deaths.

Even with the Delta outbreaks, Australia has kept its Covid-19 numbers lower than many comparable countries, with 88,700 cases and 1,178 deaths.

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