Covid: Hundreds arrested in Australia as anti-lockdown protesters clash with police

Protesters break police lines and push officers as violence breaks out at anti-lockdown march

More than 250 people have been arrested in Australia after police in Melbourne and Sydney clashed with thousands of demonstrators protesting against Covid lockdowns.

In Melbourne, a crowd of about 4,000 mostly unmasked protesters let off flares, yelled and blasted music in the central city.

A total of 218 people were arrested and at least seven officers were injured after skirmishes broke out.

Officers used pepper spray on several people, saying in a statement they were left with no choice.

A New South Wales police helicopter patrols the sky over the central business district in Sydney. Credit: AP

Meanwhile, in Sydney, where lockdown measures have been extended for another month, police deployed more than 1,500 extra officers amid demonstrations.

Police said they arrested 47 people and fined more than 260 in relation to protests across the state.

Sydney has been living under stringent cubs for two months, while Melbourne and Australia’s capital, Canberra, went into lockdown earlier this month.

Under the restrictions, people are mostly confined to their homes and have limits placed on their social interactions.

But despite these curbs, Sydney’s New South Wales state reported a record 825 new daily community infections on Saturday, as several Australian cities battle outbreaks of the highly contagious delta variant.

Protestors say the lockdowns should end, but authorities say they are necessary to suppress the spread of the virus and save lives.

More than 2,000 people also gathered in Brisbane City Botanic Gardens to rally against the lockdown and vaccine measures, although Queensland state police said they didn’t make any arrests.

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