Melbourne lockdown to stay; eight charged for rally

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The premier of Australia’s Victoria state announced a slight easing of restrictions in Melbourne but the country’s second-largest city will remain in lockdown until at least October 26.

State police charged a protester with assault after an officer suffered cuts to the head during an anti-lockdown rally in Melbourne on Saturday.

Police said that seven others have been charged with breaching COVID-19 directions after about 200 gathered at the Shrine of Remembrance and Albert Park. Scuffles between protesters and police resulted in more than 160 fines for contravening lockdown measures or not wearing a mask.

“Despite all the warnings, it was disappointing to see individuals turn out to protest in the city, putting the lives of Victorians at risk,” a police statement said.

Yesterday, health officials said Victoria recorded 63 new cases and five more deaths. It takes the state’s total fatalities to 666 and the national death toll to 753. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said that from September 13, the nightly curfew will start an hour later at 9pm and run until 5am. People living alone can nominate a friend or family member who can visit them. Two hours of daily exercise will be allowed, including social interactions such as a picnic at a park or reading a book at the beach.

He said further restrictions could be eased from September 28 and the government will consider lifting the curfew entirely from October 26.