Police patrol Melbourne's CBD ahead of potential anti-lockdown protests

Police are patrolling potential flashpoints around Melbourne’s CBD ahead of planned anti-lockdown protests.

Small protests across Melbourne on Friday saw more than 200 people arrested, but larger rallies failed to materialise.

A number of officers have been out around CBD landmarks this morning and could be seen stopping and talking to people walking through the area.

Doctor urges community to rise above division

The Australian Medical Association’s Victorian vice-president Sarah Whitelaw said healthcare workers had been “watching in fear” as this week’s at-times violent protests unfolded.

“I think all of us have had such a difficult week and this pandemic has pushed all of us to the brink,” Dr Whitelaw said.

“This week has been a really difficult one for Melbourne. The violence is obviously horrible.

“And spitting at healthcare workers, being violent with police, is obviously a devastatingly damaging way to deal with your anger.”

Dr Whitelaw said the potential of spread from the protests was “very, very real” and would likely be revealed in about a week’s time.

One protester who attended Wednesday’s Melbourne rallies was admitted to hospital after testing positive to COVID-19 and a small number of officers have been identified as close contacts as a result.

But, she said, being concerned about the possibility of superspreading events and the healthcare system being overwhelmed did not mean it was impossible to understand the “pain and the devastating impacts of lockdown”.

“We need each other more than ever and there’s no easy answers, there is not going to be an easy path over the next couple of months and I think watching those protests potentially divide the community has been devastating, not just for healthcare workers but also for all of us,” she said.

More to come.

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