australia lockdown
© Saeed Khan / AFP
Victorian Police have closed ranks on protesters which descended in their hundreds on the inner-city suburb of Richmond to protest the state's draconian lockdown.

The rally started at 12pm after a crowd gathered at Richmond town hall which is located a few blocks down from the local police station.

Crowds chanted "no more lockdown" and "sack Dan Andrews" as police formed a line at the intersection of Church Street and Bridge Road. Law enforcement responded quickly, blocking traffic and making multiple arrests before reportedly using pepper spray to disperse crowds.

The demonstrations later became violent with protesters tackled to the ground by officers and heated scenes between between the two sides with capsicum spray used by police to keep protesters at bay.

Earlier this morning main roads were closed and public transport into the CBD suspended forcing protest organisers to make last minute changes to the meeting point for the rally.

Roadblocks and hard barricades were set up as Victoria Police launched an operation which they promised would effectively shut the city down.

Protesters risk a $5,500 fine for breaching public health orders and law enforcement officials have warned they are taking a zero tolerance approach.

The police operation is the largest seen in the state in 20 years and was launched to prevent a repeat performance of the August 21 clashes between protesters and police where more than 4,000 people gathered in the CBD.

Last month's rally was dubbed one of the most violent demonstrations in 20 years by a leading police figure after six officers were hospitalised.

A 2000-strong force of police officers was deployed to prevent this Saturday's planned rally which authorities warned could be a potential "super spreader" event for Victoria.

It comes after Victoria reported one new death and a record 535 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday - the highest figures seen since the start of the state's Delta outbreak.