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  21 Sep 2021, 10:41

Melbourne shuts construction sites after violent anti-vax protest

   MELBOURNE, Sept 21, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Construction sites across Melbourne

were abruptly shuttered Tuesday after labourers rioted against new
vaccination requirements in Australia's second-largest city.

   Sites will be closed for two weeks, in what authorities described as a
response to "widespread non-compliance" with Covid-19 regulations and violent
protests.

   More than 100 construction workers in high-visibility vests brawled and
smashed union office windows in central Melbourne on Monday, voicing their
anger at the vaccine requirement.

   Melbourne has been in strict lockdown for seven weeks, as authorities
struggle to contain an outbreak of the fast-spreading Delta variant.

   Several clusters have been linked to construction sites, where Covid
containment measures are said to be lax.

   "We've been clear: if you don't follow the rules, we won't hesitate to
take action," said state minister for industrial relations Tim Pallas,
announcing the shutdown.

   "We put the industry on notice just a week ago, we have seen appalling
behaviour on site and on our streets, and now we're acting decisively and
without hesitation," he said.

   The closure of construction sites leaves tens of thousands of people out
of work, and further protests are expected Tuesday.

   Local construction union boss John Setka denounced the small group of
violent protesters, whom he said were hurting the entire workforce.

   "Those drunken fascist un-Australian morons are the reason construction
workers will be sitting at home and not getting paid for the next two weeks,"
he said.

   The state of Victoria recorded 603 new Covid cases in the past 24 hours.

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