Climate protest in Melbourne despite coronavirus spike

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has told people protesting in Mebourne today to “go home” after the state was forced to impose new restrictions after a spike in COVID-19 cases.

From midnight tomorrow household gatherings will be restricted to a maximum of five guests, and public gatherings will have a limit of 10 people.

And the plan to increase the capacity from 20 people to 50 people at cafes, restaurants and pubs has been postponed.

The new rules will come into place from midnight tomorrow and stay in place until midnight on July 12.

A climate change protest went ahead in Melbourne today despite a surge in coronavirus cases in Victoria.

Activists were set to march through the streets from 2pm today, with organisers saying they will walk in groups of 20.

Three protesters who attended a Black Lives Matter rally in Melbourne have since tested positive for COVID-19.

But Mr Andrews said people should not be protesting.

“I think that we could not have been clearer and I have a message for the people out there protesting today. Go home! Go home!” he said.

“You’re not doing your cause any good. And you’re potentially putting other people at risk. Could I possibly be any clearer than that?”

“The protests the other weekend, we advised against it. We urged people not to do it.

“We allowed Victoria Police to play their role. It is for them to determine what an appropriate response is and they’ve been very clear about what their response would be.

“It was peaceful. But it was certainly not helpful when it comes to the general community view about where we’re at.

“This is not over. I would love to be able to stand here and indicate to every Victorian that this is over. It will never truly be over until we have a vaccine and that is a long way off.”

A concerning rise in coronavirus cases this week has authorities vigilant in Victoria as the next step to ease restrictions looms.

Gyms, cinemas, indoor sports centres and concert venues are scheduled to reopen on Monday while cafes, restaurants and pubs will increase capacity from 20 people to 50.

Thirteen new cases were recorded on Friday, 18 on Thursday and 21 on Wednesday, resulting in the state’s biggest increase in more than a month.

The protesters today plan to block intersections and ride around the city on bikes.

The plan is to show people that Australia still faces a climate emergency.

“The community response to COVID has shown that when Australians understand there is a crisis they will pull together to look after each other,” spokeswoman Catherine Strong said.

“This is what we now need to deal with the climate emergency.

“Extinction Rebellion is getting back on the streets to remind people that what we’ve seen with COVID is just the tip of the iceberg compared to the problems unchecked climate change will bring, and we need to act now.”

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While the rest of the country’s COVID-19 infections decline, Victoria’s active cases rose to 91 on Friday, up from 66 four weeks ago.

Authorities are relieved that they know the links to most of the cases – many of whom are returned travellers or linked to them.

“We’re hoping that this isn’t the beginning of a second wave and we’re doing everything we absolutely can to make sure that that’s not the case,” Victorian Deputy Chief Health Officer Annaliese van Diemen said.

Overall, 1792 Victorians have been recorded with the virus, though 1680 have recovered.

Five people are in hospital, including two patients in intensive care. Nineteen people have died.

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