About 200 protesters gathered in Melbourne’s CBD rallying against the vaccine mandate – only to be quickly overpowered by police.
Multiple arrests have followed after officers moved in on those gathered at the Royal Botanical Gardens.
Police were spotted in significant numbers on Saturday morning as demonstrators awaited confirmation of the exact location to meet.
It soon followed at 12.15pm, with up to 200 protestors then seen marching down the Tan Track by the river, heard chanting ‘my body, my choice’, and ‘f— Dan Andrews’.
In all too familiar scenes from previous protests, police choppers were hovering in the sky as hundreds of officers on foot and horseback charged the crowd just before 2pm.
Up to 200 protestors met in Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday to rally against the vaccine mandate in Victoria
Some demonstrators carried umbrellas with messages reading ‘Freedom To Choose’ and ‘Sack Dan the Dictator’
Early reports suggested police made up to a dozen arrests soon after the march started in Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday afternoon
The protest in Melbourne on Saturday saw police out in force, with multiple arrests (pictured)
Officers were on foot and horseback from 12pm as word spread of a protest in Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday
An aerial view of the protest in Melbourne on Saturday, where demonstrators clashed with police
The march follows Premier Daniel Andrews on Friday announcing all authorised workers must be vaccinated with at least one dose of a Covid-19 jab by October 15 to continue to be employed.
The likes of MP’s, judges, police, teachers and professional athletes will then need their second dose by November 26.
An unrepentant Dan Andrews said the mandate was essential to limit the spreading of the Delta strain of the virus so Victoria can re-open on October 26 – with the government hoping case numbers will drop.
‘It is critically important that we do not see these cases continue to climb and go up and up and up so that our hospital system is under immense pressure even before we open up,’ the premier said.
‘(We) just won’t do that to our nurses, to our doctors, to all of our teams of those dedicated health professionals.’
‘Even after we get to 80 per cent (double-dosed) and the authorisations are no longer there, the mandate, the rule, the chief health officer direction will stay in place because cases will still be an issue then.’
In business sectors, the reaction the mandated jabs has been mixed.
Tim Piper, the Victorian head of the employer association Ai Group, is backing the premier’s directive, but Small Business Australia executive director Bill Lang labelled the move draconian.
‘What we do not advocate for is a law enforcement approach to vaccination that has the potential to criminally punish a business owners and sole traders if they or their staff have elected to not be vaccinated,’ he told the Herald Sun.
Other workers who will also be forced to get jabbed to stay in a job include cleaners, farmers, retail workers, personal trainers, spa workers and priests.
Premier Daniel Andrews also dismissed suggestions that the mandate infringed on people’s freedom to make their own decision on their healthcare.
‘I’m not taking lectures on freedom from people who will hold all of us back,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘There’s too much at stake. We’re not making this decision for fun; we’re not making it lightly or flippantly.
‘This is what has to be done to get us open.’
The protestors in Melbourne’s CBD (pictured) were met by scores of police on foot and horseback
About 200 protesters gathered in the CBD of Melbourne on Saturday rallying against the vaccine mandate
Officers were out in force on Saturday for yet another protest in Melbourne’s CBD
Unprecedented mandatory vaccine rules have been brought in for hundreds of thousands of the state’s essential workers including farmers, personal trainers and cleaners to stem the spread of its Delta outbreak. Pictured is a Covid-19 vaccine being administered on August 25 in Melbourne
Victoria’s Covid-19 outbreak continues to surge (pictured, healthcare workers at a vaccination centre in Melbourne)