Organisers of Black Lives Matter rallies could face police fines under coronavirus rules, as authorities continue to ask protesters not to attend the civil rights protest.
Thousands of protesters are expected at the rally on Saturday, and Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton says if that happens, each organiser will be fined $1651 because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Fines could also be issued to individuals, according to a police statement.
"In the exercise of police discretion, those who intentionally break the law will be held to account," the statement said.
Police previously had said they were unlikely to fine individual protesters who attend the rally.
"We will be issuing infringements to the organisers if this goes ahead and if it's greater than 20 people in breach of the chief health officer's guidelines," Mr Patton said on Friday.
"They (guidelines) are in place to prevent the spread of this disease."
Protest organisers Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance stressed safety of the community was paramount while insisting the protest will go ahead as planned.
They asked attendees to wear masks, bring hand sanitiser and protest in groups of 20 while remaining 1.5m apart.
Protesters have also been encouraged to self-quarantine for a few weeks afterwards.
"Governments and police are trying to deflect from their responsibility," WAR organiser Meriki Onus said.
"Protest is not a choice when so many of our people are murdered at the hands of police and prison guards."
The protest will be held outside Victoria's Parliament House.
It is one of a number to be held across Australia in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the US and calling for an end to Aboriginal deaths in custody.
The BLM movement has sparked rallies against police violence in the aftermath of African American George Floyd's death at the hands of white officers in Minneapolis.
Premier Daniel Andrews urged Victorians not go to the protest, saying there were other ways to make the important point of showing support for the cause.
"Big events are not allowed. Big events are not safe. Big events will do nothing but spread the virus," he said on Friday.
"This is not an ordinary Saturday in June, we're in the midst of a global pandemic."
The warnings came after Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said those attending would be at risk and would pose a health threat to the broader community.
Professor Sutton admitted transmission levels in the state were at extremely low levels, but noted the chances of the virus spreading were higher in a crowd.
"I understand the passions that people will have in relation to this and the desire to protest, but my focus has always been on the health and wellbeing of people, and that includes for the protesters themselves."
The organisers recognise the health risk but argue the need to stand up at Saturday's event overrides that concern.
"The risk is great, I don't deny that. I am an at-risk person," indigenous academic Marcia Langton told ABC Radio.
"I do appeal to everybody to wear masks and social distance at the protest. But at the same time, every time an Aboriginal person goes out on the street, we are at risk."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has a simple message for Australians planning to attend Black Lives Matter rallies: don't go.
Mr Morrison is concerned that by gathering in huge crowds, the nation will undo the work done to curb coronavirus.
In Ballarat, a silent protest is organised for 12pm on Saturday.
There remains no known active cases of COVID-19 in Ballarat and there have been 11 cases confirmed in total.
"The risks of people coming into close proximity are real and Australians have worked incredibly hard in recent months and have undergone great sacrifices to protect the health of the most vulnerable and that does include our indigenous communities," he told reporters in Canberra.
Mr Morrison noted some Australians hadn't been able to attend funerals for loved ones and while others commemorated Anzac Day by standing on their driveways and not attending ceremonies.
"All Australians owe all those other Australians a great duty of responsibility, and I say to them: 'Don't go'."
Huge crowds gathered in Perth and Sydney this week to show solidarity with the movement and African American George Floyd who died at the hands of US police.
The Australian protests are also a show of support to the Aboriginal community to highlight high levels of indigenous incarceration and deaths in custody.
Thousands are expected at protests in Canberra on Friday as well as in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart on Saturday.
The NSW state government has endorsed the protests, with premier Gladys Berejiklian urging participants to maintain social distancing.
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But Victorians have been told not to attend the rallies out of concerns it could spark a second wave of virus cases.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is worried about people breaking social distancing rules.
"People need to express their peaceful thoughts, their deeply held thoughts and concerns, online," he told reporters in Canberra.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese says people need to be cautious.
"I understand people's desire to protest and to make their voice heard. But we are still in a pandemic and we need to be extremely cautious about the way that we behave and to keep those social distancing rules in operation," he told 2SM radio.
Senior medical officials are expected to provide health advice on the protests later on Friday.
There were 10 new cases of COVID-19 recorded on Thursday - eight in Victoria and two in NSW.
There were 474 active cases including 23 people in hospital.
On Friday morning, Victorian authorities reported three further cases - two in hotel quarantine and the third a primary school student.
- Australian Associated Press
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