Sydney: Thousands of protesters gathered to protest isolation in Australia’s two largest cities on Saturday. Some of them were arrested in Sydney after violent clashes with police.
The group attacked the equestrian officers, throwing potted plants and bottles as opponents of the Sydney Monthly Stay Order took to the streets.
In Melbourne, local media reported that thousands of protesters took to the streets after a rally in front of the state parliament in the afternoon.
The unmasked protesters broke rules on non-essential travel and public gatherings the day after authorities proposed keeping the restrictions on until October.
Sydney police said they launched a “high-profile police operation” in response to the protest.
“To date, several people have been arrested during the operation,” the police said.
The organizers dubbed the protest a rally “for freedom” and posted it on social media pages that are often used to spread misinformation about vaccines and conspiracy theories.
Participants carried posters and banners reading “Wake up Australia” and “Drain the swamp” – echoing messages seen at similar demonstrations overseas.
Helicopters zipped through the streets of Sydney, a city of five million that is struggling to contain the outbreak of the Delta variant.
Similar meetings have been planned in other city centers.
The state of New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital, reported 163 new infections on Saturday, for a total of nearly 2,000 infections in the current outbreak.
Nearly half of Australia’s 25 million people, having escaped most of the early pandemic unharmed, are isolated in several cities.
There is growing dissatisfaction with restrictions, which are often only partially enforced, and the failure of the Conservative government to ensure adequate vaccine supplies.
Only 11 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.
Stephen Jones, a member of the national parliament from Sydney, called the protesters “selfish and reckless idiots.”
“Nobody wants to be isolated. This is how you continue. “
Police said they support “freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, but today’s protest violates current public health rules regarding COVID-19.”