Melbourne’s public transport system will be disrupted this weekend as Victoria Police shuts down services in a large attempt to thwart an anti-lockdown protest.
Trains, trams and bus services in and out of the CBD will be shut down this Saturday September 18 between 8am and 2pm. The move was announced in a press conference earlier this afternoon.
“It is an illegal gathering and we will be doing everything we can to prevent that gathering,” said chief commissioner Shane Patton. Anyone caught attending the protest will be fined $5500; and those caught on their way to the protest (before reaching the CBD) will be fined $1800 for being outside their five kilometres without a valid reason.
Patton says the shutdown was decided after discussions with Victoria’s chief health officer and the Department of Health. Police considered the move during last month’s protest but decided against it at the time.
“With the risk of similar numbers that could come to this demonstration, through discussions it’s been determined it was essential to temporarily suspend the network for that period of time,” he said.
Buses will bypass the CBD and continue along their usual route, while trams will stop outside the city centre and return to their junctions. No trains will come into the city during this period.
Police are also locking down the CBD with hard barricades, traffic management points and roving patrols. More than 2000 police officers will be involved. “We’re doing everything we can to prevent access into the city,” Patton said.
Workers with essential permits and emergency workers will be allowed to enter the CBD, if necessary. Victoria Police is currently finalising arrangements to facilitate travel for them. Taxis and Ubers will only be allowed into the city if passengers have valid permits.
“We’re very much aware of the significance of what is being asked of the community, the imposition we’re putting on them and inconvenience,” Patton said. “I’m hopeful this is a one-off and we won’t have to do this again.”