Anti lockdown protests turn violent in Sydney, prompting the possibility of extension of lockdown

A woman exercises on the empty steps in front of the Anzac Memorial at the Pool of Reflection as gyms are closed during a lockdown to curb the spread of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Sydney, Australia, July 22, 2021. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

On Saturday, thousands of anti-lockdown protestors gathered in Australia's two main cities, with several being arrested in Sydney following violent skirmishes with police.

As opponents of Sydney's month-long stay-at-home orders came to the streets, a group assaulted mounted officers while tossing pot plants and bottles.

Thousands of demonstrators thronged the streets in Melbourne, according to local media, after gathering outside the state parliament in the early afternoon.

A day after officials said restrictions on non-essential travel and public meetings could last until October, maskless demonstrators broke the laws.

In reaction to the demonstration, Sydney police announced they had initiated a "high-visibility policing operation"

"So far during the operation, a number of people have been arrested," the force added.

The demonstration was termed a "freedom" march by organizers, who promoted it on social media platforms that are regularly used to spread vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories.

"Wake up Australia" and "Drain the Swamp" were written on placards and banners held by attendees, mirroring slogans heard in previous demonstrations throughout the world.

Helicopters circled the streets above Sydney, a five-million-strong metropolis grappling with a Delta strain outbreak.

In other cities, similar gatherings were planned.

The state of Additional South Wales, whose capital is Sydney, reported 163 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of infections in the current outbreak to nearly 2,000.

After surviving the early stages of the epidemic relatively undamaged, nearly half of Australia's 25 million inhabitants are now under lockdown in a number of cities.

The conservative government's failure to deliver appropriate vaccine supplies, as well as the restrictions, which are sometimes only partially observed, are causing mounting outrage.

Only 11% of the population has received all of their vaccinations.

The demonstrators were described as "selfish, reckless idiots" by Stephen Jones, a member of Australia's national parliament from Sydney.

"Nobody enjoys being put on lockdown. This is how you keep things going."

"free speech and peaceful assembly, however, today's protest is in breach of the current COVID-19 Public Health Orders" police added.

Publish : 2021-07-25 10:08:00

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