In an unprecedented move against anti-lockdown protests in Victoria, police are going to shutdown Melbourne’s public transport system for six hours on the weekend.

Victoria Police will shut down Melbourne’s public transport system between 8am and 2pm on Saturday, which is when an anti-lockdown protest is expected to happen in the CBD.

“It’s been known for a while that there’s a rally planned for Saturday. We are saying you cannot come in. It is an illegal gathering. We will be doing everything we can to prevent that gathering. Anyone who makes it in there will be subject to a $5500 fine,” Police Commissioner Shane Patton said.

“We saw on the 21st of August a large crowd of around four to five thousand people. We saw a convergence of people who were placing others at risk of potentially contracting the coronavirus.

“We can’t allow that to occur again.”

On top of locking down public transport, Victoria Police will also be essentially locking down the CBD, with 2000 police officers involved in the operation.

“We will have hard barricades, we will have traffic management points, we will have roving patrols, we will doing everything we can to prevent access to the city,” Patton said.

“For those who do get through … we will arrest those people and issue infringements where we can.”

Patton clarified that essential workers can enter the CBD, provided they show their permits to police. He also went on to say that the shutdown isn’t about removing rights to protest.

“Melbourne is pretty much the protest capital of the world,” he said.

“We have no problem facilitating protests … this weekend is not the place and time. This whole cohort of people who are about ‘freedom’ don’t respect the freedoms of others.”

I mean, I’d contest that any city in Australia is the protest capital of the world. A quick Google search actually tells us it’s generally thought to be South Africa, or potentially Hong Kong. But, I digress.

Patton said on top of the $5500 fine, people who make it into the protest also risk the possibility of an additional $1,800 fine, if they’re found to be outside their 5km limit. He warned the protests could turn violent, as they did in August when six police officers where injured.

“We will make sure we are prepared to deal with that. But I just want people to think that through. Do you really want to place your family at risk in case a small group of people come in, and if they’re intent on violence like they were last time?”

Police will also be monitoring social media and chasing up people who post pictures of themselves at the anti-lockdown protest.