Anti-lockdown protesters have gathered outside the Australian Open in Melbourne Park, hours before the state’s “circuit breaker restrictions” kick in.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a five-day lockdown from 11.59pm on Friday until 11.59pm on Wednesday due to a “hyper-infectious” outbreak of COVID-19 cases at the Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport.
Victoria Police were at the scene including a line of officers and some mounted officers as hundreds marched through the CBD.
Some of the crowd were holding signs reading “Victoria Says No”, “Masks Are Muzzles” and “Australia Open, Victoria Closed”.
Masks must be worn everywhere in the state other than inside your home.
It is the third lockdown for Victoria.
In video of the protest shared on Facebook, captioned “Victorians are sick of lockdowns”, protesters could be hearing singing lines from Twister Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.
When asked about the planned protest earlier on Friday, Mr Andrews told 3AW Melbourne: “Is that like a vaccine, is it? It’s going to suddenly fix everything? No, it’s not. It might well spread the virus, though.”
RELATED: Victoria plunged into 5-day lockdown
The Australian Open has been allowed crowds of up to 30,000 but those cease at midnight.
Nick Kyrgios’ third round blockbuster with Dominic Thiem could well be the last match played with fans this tournament.
Gatherings are not permitted under the new rules.
“I know it’s not the news that Victorians want to hear today. I know it’s not the place that we wanted to be in. However, we’ve all given so much, we’ve all done so much. We’ve built something precious, and we have to make difficult decisions, and do difficult things, in order to defend what we’ve built,” Mr Andrews said.
“I am confident that this short, sharp circuit breaker will be effective. We will be able to smother this. We will be able to prevent it getting away from us.”
The lockdown has been met with outrage by businesses and residents alike, and #DictatorDan quickly began trending on Twitter in Australia on Friday.
More “stop-start restrictions will be a bitter disappointment” for the whole Victorian community, Business Council Australia (BCA) chief executive Jennifer Westacott said in a statement.
“We can’t go on managing the country like this. This is the second lockdown caused by Victoria’s hotel quarantine system, it must not be as long and destructive as the last. We must get hotel quarantine working properly,” she said.
“Even a very short lockdown will have monumental social and economic costs.”