Victoria reported 603 new local cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, as the Australian state capital saw aggressive protests against the lockdown.
State officials have imposed a two-week construction halt in Melbourne and other cities from Monday evening after peaceful protests against the vaccine industry’s mandate turned violent.
The Construction, Forestry, Navy, Mines and Energy Union, whose headquarters was damaged during the protests, blamed the escalation on “neo-Nazis and other far-right groups” who , she said, hijacked the protests, overturning their original message and turning them into anti-containment rallies.
The protests began last week after authorities announced that construction workers would have to prove they had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to gain access to their construction sites from September 23.
While Victoria has eased some restrictions in recent weeks and established a roadmap for reopening its economy, much of the state, including Melbourne, remains under lockdown.
Protests against the vaccine’s mandate continued on Tuesday morning, when the state also reported one new death from the virus.
New South Wales, meanwhile, reported 1,022 new cases and 10 deaths on Tuesday. The Australian Capital Territory has reported 16 new infections and Queensland has not filed any additional local cases.
The national government has established a roadmap for reopening the country, with most restrictions eased once two doses of the vaccine have been given to at least 80% of the population. Each state, however, has its own timeline for achieving this goal and has used different methods to convince the public to get vaccinated.