Photo Credit: Cosi Andrew Costello / Facebook
Frustrated at the thought of returning to lockdown, protesters took to the streets in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth yesterday. What were intended to be peaceful protests have ended in officer assaults, police horses struck and protestors being arrested and fined.
The Australian government has reimposed lockdowns across the country following the surge of new Covid-19 infections. The emergence of the extremely contagious Delta form of the virus has put the country's previous strategy of border closures, quarantine programmes and emergency lockdowns to the test.
Since 8pm on Friday, NSW had recorded 163 new cases in a single day, the largest daily total since the current Delta outbreak began last month. In the past 24 hours since then, they have recorded an additional 141 cases and two deaths.
In Sydney’s Covid hotspot on Saturday, 3,500 protesters stood shoulder-to-shoulder, most not wearing masks. According to Skynews.com.au NSW Police Minister David Elliot said 57 people had been charged as a result of Saturday's anti-lockdown rally in Sydney. A team has been formed to identify others who were there, and 90 penalties have been issued. He also called those who attended the protest “very selfish boofheads.” Two men have also been charged with offences that include committing an act of cruelty to an animal.
Protesters marched through Melbourne city yelling "Free Victoria" and setting off smoke flares and banging drums on the steps of the state parliament. Currently, in lockdown, residents in Melbourne are waiting to hear whether the state's lockdown will be prolonged after 12 cases were reported Saturday and 11 new cases were reported Sunday.
Victoria’s chief health officer, Professor Brett Sutton, expressed his disapproval on his Twitter account, “We can all argue the merits or otherwise of various approaches to managing transmission but let’s not pretend that ‘marching for freedom’ will actually deliver the precious freedom we all need and desire.”
In Brisbane, anti-lockdown protesters assembled in the Botanic Gardens and marched around the city, despite the fact that the city was not in lockdown and there was one probable community case. There were no arrests or fines imposed, but footage from Saturday's protest is being evaluated to see whether any clear violations happened.
More than a thousand drivers formed a convoy in Perth, blowing their horns in protest across the main streets from Fremantle to Joondalup and on the motorways, despite the fact that the city was not in lockdown and there were no new occurrences of Covid-19.
Covid-19 has claimed more than four million lives across the world. Australia nowhas over 2,000 active cases.