MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Thousands of protesters took to the streets in the Australian state of Victoria to challenge government-introduced pandemic laws and mandatory vaccination for construction workers on Saturday.People were seen not wearing masks or following social distancing measures and held up signs that read “stop the bill”, Sky News Australia has reported.Crowds protested the Public Health and Well-Being Amendment Bill 2021, which was passed last month in Australia’s lower house of parliament and will see a vote in the upper house in the coming week. The bill will see COVID-19 rules, such as the enforcement of social distancing and lockdowns, remain in action in case of subsequent health emergencies and epidemics.It has been argued that the bill will give the premier too much power, the broadcaster reported.
"Individuals have the right to lawfully protest, however, we ask that people do so peacefully and respectfully without impacting on the rest of the community. Victoria Police will have a presence in the area throughout the day to ensure the safety of those protesting and the broader community", a spokesperson for Victoria Police told Sky News.
Protesters also referred to a mandatory vaccination law that targets construction workers and comes into force on Saturday.
Positive COVID-19 cases in Victoria are growing despite 86% of people over the age of 12 having received both doses of their COVID-19 vaccination. In the past 24 hours, 1,221 new cases were recorded in the state raising the total number of active cases to over 16,000.