Tensions have reached boiling point outside a high rise commission housing tower where residents have been under lockdown since Saturday.
As Melburnians were about to learn they would be placed into a six-week nightmare, police on horseback moved into re-enforce officers positioned outside towers in Flemington.
Trouble has been brewing for days with more and more protesters gathering outside the towers on Racecourse Road, just outside of the city.
Police drag a young mum away from the Flemington housing commission towers on Tuesday
A policeman wearing a mask stands guards as his colleagues wrestle a young mum to the ground outside the Flemington COVID towers
A woman being detained by police takes an officer’s photograph outside the Flemington towers on Tuesday
Things kicked-off on Tuesday afternoon just as Premier Daniel Andrews was about to deliver more grim news to those living in the metropolitan area.
It began when a woman appeared to try and gain access to the towers, where she claimed her children were being kept.
The verbal altercation quickly escalated, with dozens of officers converging on the scene.
People were seen falling to the ground as police made several arrests.
It is a scene police have been dreading since they turned up on a moment’s notice on Saturday.
Earlier, worried police appeared to be gazing high into the tower with binoculars.
Police will be on high alert over the coming night and days as restless residents continue to wallow in their crowded flats with doubts about any end in sight.
Even if they are released after five days in isolation, they face more pain on the outside.
The whole of Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire north of the city will be placed back into lock down for six weeks from 11.59pm on Wednesday after Victoria recorded 191 new cases of coronavirus – its worst figure yet.
Residents will be only allowed to leave their homes for work and study, giving or receiving care, shopping for essentials and daily exercise near where they live.
Police will stop people leaving Melbourne with roadblocks and booze bus-style vehicle checks, effectively sealing 5 million people inside the city.
Gatherings of more than two people who not not live together will be banned and cafes, restaurants and pubs can offer takeaway only.
Older pupils and special schools will go back to class but schools holidays will be extended by a week for students up to year 10, with remote learning a possibility after that.
Premier Andrews said the new lockdown was essential to avoid ‘thousands and thousands’ of cases and ‘many, many people in hospital.’
‘This is a pandemic and it will kill thousands of people if it gets completely away from us,’ he said.
Police converged on the Flemington towers on horseback just as Daniel Andrews was about to make his announcement that Victorians would be locked up for six more weeks
Police on horseback in Flemington on Tuesday
Tensions finally reached boiling point outside the towers in Flemington
Mr Andrews said case numbers will ‘get worse before they get better’. He has told the Prime Minster about the new lockdown and requested hundreds of ADF troops to help with enforcement.
Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton confirmed 37 new cases are linked to outbreaks and 154 are under investigation, bringing the state’s total to 2,824 cases.
Thirteen new cases are linked to nine Melbourne tower blocks which have suffered 69 cases and been placed under hard lockdown since Saturday, meaning residents cannot leave for any reason without special approval.
Pictures from the housing commission blocks today show firefighters dressed in hazmat suits preparing to enter the buildings to deliver milk and bread while dozens of police stand guard outside.
Police rush to help their colleagues as they go to ground with a young mum in Flemington on Tuesday
Police grapple with a woman in Flemington after she tried to gain access to the tower
The young mum sits on the ground and talks to police after she was arrested on Tuesday outside the towers in Flemington
Locked down: A resident of a housing commission block in north Melbourne presses against the window as police patrol outside
Residents of the nine locked-down towers said they feel let down by a lack of communication, food and supplies. Some have complained they have had to go hungry because officials have not brought them enough to eat.
The Melbourne Public Tenants Association, on behalf of the residents in the Flemington and North Melbourne estates, say residents have been left in the dark since the state government’s hard lockdown was enforced on Saturday.
Police grapple with the young mum in Flemington on Tuesday
The woman was dragged away by police
Ugly scenes erupted at Flemington just as Premier Daniel Andrews addressed the country
Earlier today federal health minister Greg Hunt said broadening the lockdown in Victoria was on the table. Pictured: Firefighters in hazmat suits and police at a north Melbourne tower block
Helpers arrive with food in shopping trolleys which will be distributed by firefighters throughout a public housing tower in North Melbourne
In a letter to the federal Acting Chief Medical Officer, Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services, Premier Andrews and Victoria Police, the association describes how residents were forced to wait 24 hours for food and other essentials like baby formula, nappies and medication.
When the food arrived it was ‘at best, questionable pre-packaged meat-like food items that do not look suitable for human consumption’.
‘Furthermore, the delivery of the food was tossed to the floor on a single piece of paper in front of the residents’ apartment doors in small portions of one food item per household,’ the letter said.
One carpet-cleaner described the conditions as ‘worse than prison’ because residents are not allowed outside.
Dozens of cases from the Melbourne outbreak have been traced back to breaches in the hotel quarantine system after private security guards interacted with patients and took the virus home to their families.
Workers in full hazmat suits are seen preparing food and care packages for residents of 12 Sutton Street in North Melbourne
A police officer looks up at apartment building windows at 120 Racecourse Road in Flemington
A protester confronts police on Tuesday outside the commission housing towers in Flemington
The woman, who wore camo pants, was taken away by police on Tuesday
A young mum screams as police tackle her outside the commission towers in Flemington
Thirteen new cases are linked to nine Melbourne tower blocks which have suffered 69 cases and been placed under hard lockdown since Saturday. Pictured: A policeman on Tuesday at the North Melbourne towers
Residents are now three days into their ‘hard lockdown’.
They spent the first two days relying on deliveries of food and supplies from the state government, some of which was out-of-date, insufficient or culturally inappropriate, such as pork being provided to Muslim families.
Voices from the Blocks, a coalition of residents and community members, said they were horrified to see donated items confiscated by authorities.
‘(We) watched in horror last night as food, medicine, and essentials like nappies and baby formula were suddenly confiscated by Authorised Officers,’ the group said on Tuesday.
‘This was after more than 48 hours of needing these essential items, and having to rely on grassroots, community lead efforts.’
Department of Health and Human Services acknowledged there were ‘some delays with accepting donations and deliveries, which caused confusion at some housing estates that are in lockdown’.
‘We are currently working with the parties involved to make sure food and other supplies are being provided without further interruption,’ a spokeswoman said.
‘We apologise for the inconvenience and frustration caused and thank the residents for their co-operation and patience.’
Police detain a protester on Tuesday in Flemington
Police stand guard outside a tower in Flemington
Police arrest a young woman who fronted them on Tuesday outside a tower in Flemington