With the surge in cases, thousands of people took to the streets of this Australian city to protest the lockdown restrictions.
Thousands of anti-blockade protesters took to the streets of Sydney and other major Australian cities to protest the coronavirus restrictions. As the number of infections hit a record high, the authorities warned that “the problem is getting worse.”
In Sydney, maskless participants marched from Victoria Park to City Hall in the Central Business District on Saturday, holding slogans calling for “freedom” and “truth”.
A large number of police officers were present in the city, including mounted police and riot police, in response to what the authorities said were unauthorized protests.
Police confirmed that some people have been arrested after the crowd broke through obstacles and threw plastic bottles and plants.
The New South Wales (NSW) police said they recognized and supported the right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly, but the protests violated public health orders.
A police statement said: “The priority of the New South Wales Police is always the safety of the wider community.”
At the time of the protest, the number of COVID-19 cases in the state reached 163 new infections in the past 24 hours, another record.
For the past four weeks, the Greater Sydney area has been under lockdown, and residents can only leave their homes for reasonable reasons.
“We live in a democratic country, usually of course I am a person who supports people’s rights to protest… But currently, our cases are spreading, and people think it is okay to leave there and possibly get close to everyone else in the demonstration,” State Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.
Stephen Jones, a member of Parliament from Sydney, denounced the protesters as “selfish and reckless idiots.”
“No one wants to be blocked. This is how you stick to it.”
In Melbourne, thousands of protesters without masks chanted “freedom” in the city center. Some of them lit flares when they gathered outside the Victorian State House.
They held up banners that read: “This is not about the virus, but about the government’s total control of the people.”
Adelaide also plans to hold a car protest rally, Adelaide is also in a state of lockdown, the police warned them will be arrested for illegal activities.
After escaping most of the early pandemic unharmed, about half of Australia’s 25 million people are now locked down in multiple cities.
People are increasingly angry about the restrictions (often only partially complied with) and the conservative government’s failure to provide adequate vaccine supplies.
Only 11% of the population is fully vaccinated.