Havoc on the streets as anti-lockdown protestors clash with police, yell anti-vaxxer slogans and BURN the flag in nation-wide rallies – with some travelling from Sydney’s virus-ravaged south-west to the heart of the city demanding ‘freedom’

  • Thousands of protesters have marched in Sydney and Melbourne in backlash over strict lockdowns 
  • Sydneysiders took to Twitter to say they witnessed protesters and police clashing in suburban streets 
  • Protesters chanted ‘freedom’, held up placards, and were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing 
  • Police were out in force to meet the protesters with mounted officers present and multiple arrests  

By BRETT LACKEY FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA

PUBLISHED: 12:15 AEST, 24 July 2021 | UPDATED: 14:04 AEST, 24 July 2021

Anti-lockdown marches have erupted across Australia with tens of thousands of maskless protesters lining the streets of Melbourne and Sydney, amid fears the rallies could act as devastating Covid super-spreading events.

The protests are a response to Covid lockdowns imposed in NSW, Victoria and South Australia, with more than half the country’s 25million people ordered to stay at home over an outbreak which began in Sydney’s east.

Frenzied crowds shouting ‘freedom’ and anti-vaccine conspiracy slogans swarmed Haymarket in the city centre from midday on Saturday, just moments after NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty declared the area a virus hotspot.

One group of five protesters, all who wouldn’t be named, told Daily Mail Australia they’d travelled from the Covid-ravaged south-west for the rally.

Protesters flood the street in Victoria Park in Sydney on Saturday about midday (pictured)

Protesters flood the street in Victoria Park in Sydney on Saturday about midday (pictured) +37

Mounted police and riot squad officers were seen trying to contain chanting crowds and direct the flow of protesters near Broadway as traffic stopped along the city’s busiest road.

Dozens of protesters climbed the roof of a Woolworths store and nearby train station, some holding signs reading: ‘Western Sydney Lives Matter’.  

One Sydney resident took to Twitter on Saturday about midday to say she witnessed protesters and police clashing outside her house. 

‘Stepped outside my house in Chippendale five mins ago … assuming this is an anti-lockdown protest that police diverted from Broadway,’ the woman wrote.  +37

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According to this Police Minster these protests are illegal

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard believes the Pandemic is so serious we must accept the new world order

Other stunned Sydneysiders took to social media to to describe the protests.

‘Protest stretches right down Broadway! Absolutely massive turnout,’ one demonstrator said.

Shocked onlookers feared the rally could spell disaster for Sydney’s Delta outbreak.

‘The Sydney anti-lockdown protest is a superspreader event in the making. If the sheer number of people wasn’t enough, everyone is also screaming at the top of their lungs (without masks) and potentially spreading droplets all over the damn place,’ one said.

One person said the most well behaved of Sydney’s protests were in the centre of the city. 

‘Actual mostly peaceful anti lockdown protests going on in the heart of Sydney right now,’ the woman wrote to Twitter. +37

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Protesters were chanting ‘freedom’ as they marched through Sydney streets and held placards – the majority not wearing masks or practicing any kind of social distancing. 

Some of those attending were also reportedly setting off fireworks, brandishing fire twirling sticks, and there were unconfirmed reports an Australian flag had been burned.  

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard urged Sydneysiders to avoid attending the rally on Saturday.

‘We live in a democracy and normally I am certainly one who supports people’s right to protest, but I actually think it is really silly,’ he said on Saturday.

NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys earlier warned a lockdown protest in Sydney would be ‘disastrous’ .

‘It’s not really the time for people to come together closely, to exercise somewhat they would think was their democratic right and it may well be,’ he said.

‘NSW Police are in a position where they will try and work with the organisers and the specific group leaders to make sure that they comply with the public health orders, and in fact we don’t get a situation where we end up with a spreading event in Sydney which would, of course, be disastrous’. +37

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‘At the present time we’ve got cases going through the roof, and we have people thinking that it’s OK to get out there and possibly be close to each other at a demonstration. I just think that’s a bit silly.’

The protesters in Sydney marched from Victoria Park to Town Hall in the central business district on Saturday.

They broke through a police barrier to continue down George St but were stopped at King St by a heavy police presence, including mounted police and riot officers.

Protesters threw plastic bottles and plants taken from the street at officers, and several arrests have been made.

Signs carried by the protesters call for ‘freedom’ and ‘the truth’.

The protest comes as COVID-19 case numbers in NSW reached another record high since the first wave in 2020.

Some 163 new local cases were reported in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday, up from 136 the day before.

Greater Sydney has been locked down for the past four weeks, with residents only able to leave home with a reasonable excuse. +37

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In Melbourne, hundreds of police officers are stationed in CBD amid concerns it could thwart Victoria’s efforts to emerge from restrictions.

A rally involving a few hundred people could involve flares and the blocking of an inner-city bridge, Chief Commissioner of Police Shane Patton said on Friday.

‘Where you have the vast majority of Victorians doing the right thing, sitting at home, it’s such a sense of entitlement to say ‘I can go out and protest just because I disagree’ and potentially breach all of the CHO guidelines and spread the virus,’ he told 3AW.

At least 1000 people have also gathered in Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday afternoon – with flares have been lit outside Victoria’s Parliament House..

A car rally is also planned for locked-down Adelaide, with police warning they will make arrests over unlawful activity

Series of anti-lockdown protests happening in Sydney

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews labelled the idea of protesting lockdown ‘ridiculous’.

‘Protest against this virus by staying at home, following the rules and getting out of lockdown,’ he said.

Victoria has added a new category to its interstate travel permit system, designating all of NSW a COVID-19 ‘extreme risk zone’, as the southern state recorded 12 new locally acquired coronavirus cases.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton made the ‘extreme risk zone’ declaration late on Friday, effective from 11.59pm.

‘If people enter Victoria from an extreme risk zone without an exemption, they will be put on a return flight or placed in 14 days mandatory hotel quarantine. Exemptions will only be granted in exceptional circumstances,’ the state health department said.

Victorians who have been in NSW in the past 14 days and are wishing to return home can only do so with an exemption or other valid permit, such as a Specified Worker Permit.

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Sydney protest+37

Sydney protest+37

Red zone designations still apply to the ACT, South Australia and Norfolk Island.

The order follows Premier Daniel Andrews’ unsuccessful pitch at national cabinet on Friday to put a ‘ring of steel’ around Sydney.

The concept, involving a police guard around the city to stop anyone leaving, was used during Melbourne’s lengthy second lockdown in 2020, in order to protect regional areas and other states from infection.

However after the national cabinet meeting Prime Minister Scott Morrison argued such a strategy was unnecessary because stay-at-home rules were enough to rein in the virus.+37

Protesters in Sydney+37

Protesters in Sydney+37

Victoria recorded 12 new locally acquired COVID-19 infections on Saturday, 10 of which were in quarantine throughout their entire infectious period. All infections are linked to current outbreaks.

The figures continue the state’s encouraging downward trend in new diagnoses – having recorded 14 cases on Friday and 26 on Thursday.

The numbers come with 19,281 vaccine doses administered in the past 24 hours in Victoria and 39,846 COVID tests conducted.

Victoria’s current set of restrictions – its fifth lockdown – are scheduled to be eased on July 27 but Mr Andrews says health authorities want more data before making a decision.

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Meanwhile, police are preparing to deal with an anti-lockdown protest planned for Melbourne on Saturday and are concerned it could thwart the state’s efforts to emerge from restrictions.

A rally involving a few hundred people could involve flares and the blocking of an inner-city bridge, Chief Commissioner of Police Shane Patton said on Friday.

‘Where you have the vast majority of Victorians doing the right thing, sitting at home, it’s such a sense of entitlement to say ‘I can go out and protest just because I disagree’ and potentially breach all of the CHO guidelines and spread the virus,’ he told 3AW. +

SYDNEY’S LOCKDOWN: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW UNTIL JULY 30

Those living in Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Shellharbour and Wollongong must abide by the following: 

Masks are mandatory in all indoor settings outside the home, including offices and apartment buildings

Residents can travel only 10km from their homes

– Exercise and gather in groups of two while outside

– Only one member of each household per day allowed to leave the home for essential shopping

– No browsing in supermarkets and retail businesses. Shop only for essential items

– Funerals are capped at 10, weddings are banned

– No car pooling with other households when going out for exercise

There is no curfew but a stay at home order applies, with only four reasons to leave your home 

Schools are closed with at-home learning in place, but no child will be turned away if they need to attend in person

The new rules are in addition to the stay-at-home orders already in place until July 30, which include only leaving the home to:

*shop for essential items (one person only) 

*give care and compassionate reasons (one visitor only) 

*exercise or for work or education that cannot be conducted remotely

People in Fairfield, Liverpool or Canterbury in Sydney’s southwest are advised to stay home, unless:

*shop for essential items (one person only) 

*give care and compassionate reasons (one visitor only) 

*For work unless it is an essential service, such as health workers. Businesses must give employees the option of working from home.

* Any essential employees who are permitted to leave their suburbs for work are subject to the same restrictions previously in place, namely receiving a negative Covid test every three days. 

 The rest of NSW (including regional areas) is subject to the following restrictions:

  • Dance and gym classes are limited to 20 people per class and masks must be worn
  • No more than five visitors (including children) allowed in homes
  • Masks are compulsory in all indoor non-residential settings
  • The four-square-metre rule is back for indoor and outdoor settings and drinking while standing at indoor venues is not allowed
  • Dancing will not be allowed at indoor hospitality venues or nightclubs, but dancing is allowed at weddings for the wedding party (no more than 20 people)

When does the lockdown end?  

  • Stay at home orders apply to Greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour until 11.59pm on Friday, July 30, 2021 

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