'SHUT UP!': Wild scenes as police clash with protesters
A number of dramatic arrests have occurred at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance, where an anti-lockdown protest is set to take place today.
A woman has been taken to Melbourne West police station, while a maskless man - who repeatedly called police "Nazi dogs" - was arrested at the Shrine, which has been saturated with police this morning.
Other footage showed police putting a mask on a man before arresting him.
Authorities have threatened to throw the book at anyone who attempts to gather for the "Freedom Rally", warning of hefty fines and arrests.
"Our aim is to prevent you from coming into the city," Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said, having previously called conspiracy theorists "batshit crazy" and the "tinfoil hat brigade".
"We will be out there in the suburbs. We will be on the road, on public transport. You can expect the police will want to speak to you, want you to explain your permitted reason for leaving (to go to) the city."
The Premier has slammed anti-lockdown demonstrators intending to protest across Melbourne today, calling their behaviour "absolutely selfish", as Victoria recorded 76 new coronavirus infections and 11 deaths overnight.
"It is not safe, it is not smart, it is not law. In fact, it is absolutely selfish for people to be out there protesting," Daniel Andrews told reporters.
"The only protest we should be engaged in, the only argument, the only fight we should be engaged in is against this virus.
"Let's not any of us do anything that might jeopardise this strategy stopping, let's not any of us do anything that might see more coronavirus cases rather than less. That is just not worth it."
Arrests taking place at anti-lockdown protests
Police have made a number of arrests and issued multiple fines to anti-lockdown protesters in Melbourne.
Thousands of demonstrators have abandoned the Shrine of Remembrance and are reportedly marching down St Kilda Rd.
Among those arrested are a man in a full body hazmat suit (sans mask ,though), who attempted to protest outside Parliament House with his wife.
Officers placed a face mask over his mouth after they arrested him, to which he said, "A muzzle, they're gagging me", the Herald Sun reports.
"I have a declaration right here from 10 or 12 doctors that was presented to Daniel Andrews they voted only a few days ago that coronavirus was a sham," he was heard telling police as he was led away.
A woman at the Shrine was also arrested ahead of the planned protest, and was handcuffed by police and was seen crying as she was questioned.
Those fined (so far) include two maskless women, who claimed to be at the memorial to lay flowers.
Another man, who'd taken off his mask to confront officers and tell him he was going to the dentist, was arrested and a mask was forced back onto his face.
A bald woman and an elderly man were also placed in handcuffs before 10:30am, while two women - one wearing a literal tin foil hat - were fined for breaching COVID-19 orders.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has given a big hint as to what the pathway out of strict stage four restrictions will look like, and it's bad news for those hoping for a quick return to more normal conditions.
The Premier spoke after it was confirmed the state had recorded 76 new coronavirus cases overnight, showing a continuing decline in infections.
"Obviously, 76 new cases is still a really significant challenge for us," he said.
"To open up with those numbers would see the total number of coronavirus infections explode. It would see many, many hundreds, indeed thousands, of Victorians infected."
Opening too soon could see a "far worst third wave" he said.
Meanwhile, Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton has said the numbers are not reducing as quickly as he would like.
"It's going in the right direction (but) it's too slow for all of us, it's too slow for me".
On Sunday, Victoria is set to lay out its road map out of stage four restrictions. The strict curfew and lockdowns were due to finish on September 13 but are widely expected to be extended for several more weeks.
Talking to reporters today, Mr Andrews gave every indication the removal of stage 4 restrictions would continue until numbers were lower.
"As frustrating, as challenging as it is, we need to stay the course on this.
"That's why tomorrow we will outline a road map to ease these important restrictions, to ease out of the second wave, once it's appropriately and properly defeated. Truly defeated. So that we can be sure that the settings we lock in can be defended," he said.
"Victorians will get tomorrow is a plan that is steady and safe and will deliver a COVID normal that can last months and months, not just weeks."
The Premier said his preference was to get new case numbers down to a lower level rather than opening up sooner and risk closing down again.
"What we are trying to achieve here and what I am confident we will achieve is not to open for a few weeks and then we see hundreds of thousands of cases that we need to shut down again.
"This thing is wicked, stubborn, and silent and moves with such speed that unless we see it defeated properly in the second wave, we will be open for just a few weeks, one month, may and then it will all be back again and arguably it will be worse than it ever was."
Mr Andrews said he only wanted to ease restrictions when the state was in a position to keep them eased for months, or even more than a year, until a vaccine was found.
"It is about steady and safe easing of these rules, so that we can lock in a lasting COVID normal. Not for weeks, months, as long as it takes."
Mr Sutton said new infections were falling at a slower rate than hoped for.
"We want to see this disappear. We have been so very patient. But it is hard yakka.
"I've got some impatience about not being at zero. I'd love to see it drop much faster. But these are the most difficult chains of transmission to get on top of.
"There are lots of efforts that need to be made across lots and lots of different areas to really crush this."
Mr Sutton said zero local transmission would not be the yardstick for loosening restrictions as there was no indication when - or even if - that might happen.
"We may or may not be able to get there. There aren't many places around the world that have got to those low levels.
"We are just getting to a position where we get low enough numbers that we can sustain those numbers at the lowest possible level," he said.
"It's not to say that we won't progress with relaxation of restrictions, with some small numbers of cases, as long as we can sustain control of those numbers. That's the principle."
Originally published as Premier's hint at easing of stage 4