Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters clashed with police in Melbourne on Tuesday, leaving at least four people injured and more than five dozen in custody.
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse more than 2,000 people – many of whom identified themselves as construction workers – who roamed along busy thoroughfares in Australia’s second-largest city, ABC News reported.
The protests were sparked by the Victoria state government’s decision this week to shut down the construction industry for two weeks in Melbourne and some regional areas.
The government has also made it mandatory for construction workers to get vaccinated.
“Any police force would have been challenged by the spontaneity and the sheer mass of numbers we saw from this group, and the tactics they employed throughout the day,” said Shane Patton, police chief in the southeastern state of Victoria.
The four people wounded in clashes were three cops and a journalist, while at least 62 protesters have been arrested, the report said.
The anti-virus measures have been implemented amid a spike in COVID-19 infections ongoing since last month.
Victoria reported 39 new cases over the past day, raising the state’s total to 6,000, including 833 fatalities, according to the Health Ministry.
Australia’s overall tally currently stands at 88,710, with a death toll of 1,178.