Thousands protest lockdown restrictions across Australia amid another surge in Covid-19 cases

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Sydney and other Australian cities to protest lockdown restrictions amid a further increase in coronavirus cases.

Participants walked from Sydney’s Victoria Park to Town Hall in the Central Business District, carrying signs calling for «freedom».

There was a heavy police presence in Sydney, including mounted police and riot officers, in response to what authorities said was unauthorized protest activity. Police confirmed that a number of arrests were made.

New South Wales (NSW) police said they recognize and support the rights to free speech and peaceful assembly, but the protest is a violation of public health orders.

«The priority for NSW Police is always the safety of the wider community,» a police statement read.

The protest comes as the number of Covid-19 cases in the state hit another record with 163 new infections in the past 24 hours.

The Greater Sydney area has been closed for the past four weeks, and residents have only been able to leave the house with a reasonable excuse.

State Health Secretary Brad Hazzard said: “We live in a democracy and normally I’m definitely someone who supports people’s rights to protest…but right now we have issues going through the roof and we have people who think it’s okay to go out there and maybe be close to each other in a protest. «.

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In Melbourne, thousands of protesters took to the city center, chanting «freedom». Some of them lit torches as they gathered outside Parliament House in Victoria.

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A drive-by protest rally is also scheduled in Adelaide, which is also under lockdown, with police warning they will make arrests.

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