Covid: Violent protests in Melbourne over compulsory vaccinations for construction workers

Australia's Victoria state has shut construction sites across Melbourne after a violent protest against mandatory Covid-19 vaccines

Hundreds of protesters have clashed with police in Melbourne, as they demonstrated against the introduction of mandatory coronavirus vaccine rules in the construction industry.

Some protesters dressed as construction workers reportedly assaulted officers, smashed police car windows and damaged property on the streets of Australia's second-largest city.

The protest was aimed at a Victoria state government rule requiring all construction workers to get vaccinated.

It came a day after riot police were called in to disperse about 500 protesters who smashed the door at the offices of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, which represents construction workers.

Riot police had to be deployed and reportedly used rubber bullets and pepper spray to disperse crowds.

The union has said it is in favour of its members being vaccinated but it opposes jabs being compulsory.

Hundreds gathered in Melbourne for another anti-vaccination protest on Tuesday

On Monday night, the state government announced that the construction industry would be closed for two weeks in metropolitan Melbourne and some regional areas from Tuesday. Officials say all worksites will need to show compliance with health rules before being able to re-open, including demonstrating that staff have had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine before they return to work on October 5.

The country has recorded just over 87,000 Covid cases, with 1,167 coronavirus-linked deaths, according to the latest Johns Hopkins University data.

But about half of the population has recently been placed under stringent lockdown curbs due to spikes in the cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, with the highly contagious Delta variant fuelling a rise in cases.

Some Australia authorities have shifted their focus to rapid vaccination drives and moved away from a suppression strategy to bring cases down to zero.

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