Contrary to promises, Melbourne, which lives under some of the toughest and most enduring coronavirus restrictions, will not get a reprieve on Monday, Victoria state head has announced, leaving the distressed and near-bankrupt public fuming.
Metropolitan Melbourne was supposed to see some of its lockdown restrictions lifted starting next week. The Australian city has seen its rolling two-week average Covid-19 infections drop below five, prompting the government to indicate that the situation was good enough to ease some restrictions. But despite the high hopes, far-left Premier Daniel Andrews said during his Covid-19 update on Sunday that it would not happen.
Andrews announced that a ‘cautious pause’ was necessary for a couple more days to process over 1,000 Covid-19 tests from an outbreak in northern Melbourne and that a rollback should not be expected until Tuesday at the earliest.
‘Put simply: this is a couple of extra days that might put us weeks ahead of this virus. To not only get on top of this outbreak but to stamp it out,’ the premier said. He added the banality that it was not a step back and that it was necessary not to let ‘everything Victorians have sacrificed, everything we’ve given up, simply slip away.’
The delay was criticised by opposition politicians, business owners unhappy about the economic toll that the lockdown takes, and Victorians, who were looking forward to hearing uplifting news from the unpopular Andrews.
Michael O’Brien, the leader of the opposition in Victoria accused the premier of moving the goalposts once again and called his decision ’appalling’. The state’s prime business association, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the premier has dealt a ’shattering blow’ to the economy and that the situation resembled living in a time loop, ’like Groundhog Day’.
Former Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the postponement, which was announced after a spectacular reduction in new Covid-19 infections demonstrated a ’paralysis in decision-making’ on the part of the Andrews government.
While Melbourne will have to wait further, regional Victoria will see some easing of restrictions starting next week, Andrews also announced. Starting Wednesday, the state will see the reopening of gyms, indoor pools and food courts, provided they serve no more than 20 customers at a time.
Legions of protesters faced off with mounted police in violent clashes in Melbourne amid rising tensions over the ongoing coronavirus lockdown in the city, which has lasted over 100 days.
Hundreds of protesters marched towards the city’s Arts Center on Friday, while shouting “freedom” and “choose your side” at police during the so-called “Freedom Day” rally which began about 2pm local time.
Agitators among the 200- to 300-strong crowd were filmed kicking police horses and striking them with flag poles. At one point, a protester called one of the horses a “racist.” Watch video
Meanwhile, in Europe, anti-lockdown riots are spreading. Throughout Italy, war has broken out between the police and the people.
Police in Italy’s capital unleashed an arsenal of riot control weapons on crowds protesting a new round of coronavirus lockdown measures, blasting demonstrators with water cannons, tear gas and flash-bang grenades.
A protest rally near Rome’s historic Piazza del Popolo square descended into violence on Tuesday night as several hundred demonstrators took to the streets to demand an end to new Covid-19 policies imposed over the weekend, which include a 6pm curfew for bars and restaurants and shutdown orders for public facilities such as gyms, swimming pools and movie theatres.
Firebombing attacks are reported in Berlin; riots have broken out in London, Barcelona, Poland and there are protests taking place in Riga, capital of Latvia.
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