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Australian police warn of zero tolerance for anti-lockdown protesters

Sydney: Police in the Australian State of Victoria have hit out at plans for a third weekend of anti-lockdown protests, saying they will take a zero tolerance approach towards anybody breaching COVID-19 restrictions.

A Victorian Police spokesperson told Xinhua on Friday it remained a criminal offence for people to gather in public places under the standing COVID-19 regulations.

“The Chief Health Officer’s directions are clear about the need to avoid mass gatherings to limit the spread of coronavirus. This activity has the potential to put Victorians lives at risk.”

Victoria recorded 45 new infections on Friday and five further deaths as the state battled to maintain control over a second wave of the pandemic.

Strict social isolation rules including a nightly curfew had brought cases numbers down from a peak of over 700 per day, however many residents had become frustrated after close to two months in lockdown.

On Thursday, Victorian Police Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent revealed authorities had been warned that further large-scale gatherings were planned for the weekend, and said that the police would respond with a heavy presence in key areas across Victoria’s capital city, Melbourne.

“Last weekend, we arrested over 70 people and issued over 170 fines to those who chose to protest in Melbourne,” the spokesperson said.

“We will have no hesitation in taking the same action again for those who blatantly breach the restrictions.”

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