Thousands of anti-vaxxers marched to the streets throughout Australia to protest lockdowns and the coronavirus vaccine deployment, and a Nobel Prize-winning doctor has warned that if their mass rallies spark a Covid-19 superspreader event, they will be the first to die.
On Saturday, mass protests were conducted in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane to protest the current round of lockdowns, which have forced 14 million Australians to stay at home and may force Victoria’s Covid restrictions to be extended, causing Sydney case numbers to skyrocket.
The warning comes as a lady in her late 30s died of Covid overnight, with no prior health issues, while New South Wales reported 141 new instances on Sunday.
In the community, 38 of the new cases were infectious.
A second woman, in her 70s and from south-west Sydney, died over the weekend.
Activists in Melbourne screamed anti-vax chants and set off smoke flares as they gathered for a ‘Freedom Rally,’ while in Sydney, 57 residents were taken away in handcuffs as demonstrators flung pot plants at mounted authorities and frantic crowds chanted: ‘You serve us!’
Protesters were recorded pushing a police officer into a garden bed in front of Town Hall station in the city’s CBD as officers sought to make an arrest during the mayhem.
International Samoan rugby league player Frank Winterstein and his wife Taylor, both strong anti-vaccination advocates, were among the estimated 3,500 demonstrators at Sydney’s event.
‘Be prepared for all situations, including arrests and fines,’ Ms Winterstein said on social media as she shared footage from the rallies without a mask.
‘I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees,’ says the author.
‘There are more of us than there are of them; they won’t be able to apprehend us all.’
Professor Peter Doherty, a well-known Australian immunologist, warned that the unvaccinated are the ones most likely to die from the virus, adding that even if the majority of the population has taken the vaccine, the virus can still spread to those who haven’t.
He pointed out that in the United States, 97% of Covid-19 patients in hospitals were unvaccinated, serving as a sharp warning to Australians to roll up their sleeves and get the vaccine.
‘The unvaccinated will be the ones who die,’ he told The Sunday Telegraph.
Vaccinated people are more than 90% protected from hospitalisation, but they can still become infected and spread the disease. Unvaccinated people will be at serious risk once we open up, whether worldwide or locally.’
While immunizations are helpful in reducing the spread of the fatal virus, they do not totally eliminate it.
‘You can’t just get by because everyone else is vaccinated; you have to be vaccinated as well.’ ‘Getting vaccinated is a responsibility for their own sake and the sake of their family,’ he said.
Brett Sutton, Victoria’s chief health officer, also slammed demonstrators, stating that the rallies would not liberate Australians from Covid and that the pandemic was far from ended.
On Saturday, Melbourne police made six arrests and are looking for a demonstrator who allegedly threw a huge bollard at a mounted officer.
Drug possession and refusal to disclose contact information to police were among the charges coming from the demonstration, and at least one person was charged with assaulting an emergency worker.
A further 70 demonstrators are facing fines in Melbourne, but police fear the figure will rise.
The demonstrators, according to Victoria Assistant Police Commissioner Luke Cornelius, were’selfish,’ and their activities could result in the state’s lockdown being extended.
It’s hard to believe that today’s demonstration may lead to an extension of the same thing they’re fighting for, namely, an end to the current lockdown and the reopening of business, which is something we’re all working so hard to achieve,’ he said.
Mr Sutton used Twitter to point out the hypocrisy of protestors claiming ‘freedom’ as their purpose.
‘I adore liberty. Who doesn’t want to be free? I want to be free of the nearly 4 million official (and possibly 10 million actual) Covid fatalities that have occurred over the world,’ he added.
‘Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that’marching for freedom’ will bring us the wonderful freedom that we all seek.
‘New varieties could still be disastrous for most of the planet, including Australia.’
He warned that ‘giving up’ on preventing the spread of Covid might be disastrous.
‘Letting viruses potentially overwhelm our health system will result in an enormous amount of illness and death,’ he warned.
The protests, which also took place in Brisbane, were in response to Covid lockdowns imposed in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, with more than half of the country’s 25 million people being instructed to stay at home due to an epidemic that started in Sydney’s east.
However, there are now concerns that the rash protests taking place around the country would devolve into deadly Covid super spreader incidents.
Those who attended the protests were dubbed “boofheads” by NSW Police Minister David Elliott, who said 90 people had been fined across the state, with more arrests planned.
‘What we saw today were 3,500 really selfish boofheads who didn’t think the law applied to them,’ he said.
‘I’ll be very, very shocked if we don’t see a [Covid] spike in the areas where these demonstrators came from in the next week,’ Elliott added.
‘It was simply a bunch of knuckleheads.’ There is no doubt in my mind that at least one person present today had COVID; it is statistically impossible for us to ignore this possibility.
‘I’m urging all 3,500 individuals to be tested tomorrow, if not for themselves, then for the sake of their family and friends,’ says the doctor.
Gladys Berejiklian, the Premier of New South Wales, also slammed the protestors, threatening to punish anybody who breached the law.
‘I am profoundly appalled by today’s illegal demonstrators in the City, whose selfish acts have jeopardised everyone’s safety,’ Ms Berejiklian added.
‘The protestors have demonstrated complete disrespect for their fellow residents who are going through a difficult time.
‘I want to express my gratitude to the brave police officers who risked their lives to ensure that the protests were put to an end.’
A team of 22 investigators, according to the police minister, would work nonstop to identify as many of the illegal protestors as possible.
Crowds packed Sydney’s city centre from midday on Saturday, yelling ‘freedom’ and anti-vaccine slogans just seconds after NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty named the region a virus hotspot.
Some held posters that read ‘no tests, no cases, no lockdown,’ while one woman proudly wore a sweater with the words ‘Covid is a scam’ crocheted across it.
Others held posters encouraging Australians to ‘wake up’ and ‘get off their knees,’ while another cardboard banner said, ‘The new world order is the true virus.’
The gathering was attended by a group of five demonstrators from the Covid-ravaged south-west of Sydney, according to the Daily Mail Australia.
One said, ‘We don’t give a f*** mate, this lockdown is killing us.’
As traffic backed up along the city’s biggest road, mounted police and riot squad officers were spotted attempting to corral yelling crowds and direct the flow of protestors near Broadway.
Hundreds of demonstrators scaled the roofs of a Woolworths shop and a nearby train station, some waving posters that said “Western Sydney Lives Matter.”
A ‘Freedom’ banner was also hung by the group.
About 2.40 p.m., police advised a throng assembled outside Town Hall that they needed to disperse if they didn’t want to be pepper sprayed.
Around lunchtime, a Sydney homeowner turned to Twitter to report that protesters and police had clashed outside her home.
The woman commented, “Stepped outside my house in Chippendale five minutes ago… guessing this is an anti-lockdown rally that police diverted from Broadway.”
On more than one instance, demonstrators were left wounded as they attempted to defy police officials, with several attempting to fight them off.
One man tried to flee from an officer but was eventually brought down to the ground.
Protesters allegedly threw ink at officers, with images showing a deep blue tinge on an officer’s clothes as his colleague sought to wipe him clean.
On Saturday afternoon, thousands of people gathered in Melbourne’s CBD, with flares being lit outside Victoria’s Parliament House.
On the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets in the CBD, police formed a barrier to keep the crowd chanting ‘you work for us’ at bay.
Mounted officers ordered the crowd to disperse, and several demonstrators were detained.
Around 7,500 people gathered at Brisbane’s botanic gardens in an anti-lockdown rally, refusing to wear masks despite the city not being under stay-at-home orders.
A automobile rally was also planned for Adelaide, which was shut down by police, who warned that they would make arrests if there was any illegal behaviour.
Sydney residents were taken aback and rushed to social media to recount the protests in their city, which had the largest attendance.
‘There’s a protest all the way down Broadway!’ One demonstrator described the attendance as “absolutely huge.”
Onlookers were shocked, and many thought the protest would be disastrous for Sydney’s Delta epidemic.
‘The anti-lockdown rally in Sydney is shaping up to be a superspreader event. If the sheer quantity of people wasn’t enough, everyone is also yelling at the top of their lungs (without masks), potentially dispersing droplets all over the area,’ one person explained.
‘These individuals are demonstrating against the lockdowns. ‘It’s obvious that they don’t want to be cuffed,’ added another.
‘So they decide to protest by breathing on each other, spreading covid, increasing the number of positive cases and spreading the disease, extending the lockdown they are protesting?’
A father and son from Fairfield told Daily Mail Australia they’d come from Covid ground-zero in Sydney to the CBD to take part in the march, maintaining they’aren’t terrified of cops.
Another demonstrator, who wore a face cover, stated that he was not anti-mask, but rather anti-lockdown.
He told the CN News, ‘I’m against lockdowns; they’re hurting my business.’
‘That’s why we’re all here,’ says the group.
Another person said that officers pepper sprayed their friend.
As the almost 10,000-strong crowd marched by Central Station, protesters sang the Australian national anthem.
On Saturday, demonstrators marched from Victoria Park to Town Hall in Sydney’s central business district.
They got through a police barricade to continue down George St, but were stopped by a large police force, including mounted police and riot policemen, at King St.
The protest comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in NSW has risen to a new level after the initial wave in 2020.
In the 24 hours leading up to 8 p.m. on Friday, 163 new local cases were reported, up from 136 the day before.
For the past four weeks, Greater Sydney has been shut down, with people only allowed to leave with a valid reason.
The concept of protesting lockdown was deemed ‘crazy’ by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
‘Stay at home, respect the regulations, and go out of lockdown to protest against this virus,’ he urged.
After the southern state reported 12 new locally acquired coronavirus cases, Victoria introduced a new category to its interstate travel permit system, designating all of NSW as a COVID-19 ‘high risk zone.’
Dr. Sutton declared a “extreme risk zone” late Friday, effective at 11:59 p.m.
‘Those who enter Victoria without an exception from an extreme risk zone will be placed on a return flight or placed in a 14-day obligatory hotel quarantine.’
Only in extreme instances will exemptions be given,’ according to the state health department.
Victorians who have spent the previous 14 days in NSW and wish to return home must have an exemption or another valid permit, such as a Specified Worker Permit.
The ACT, South Australia, and Norfolk Island are still classified as red zones.
The order comes after Mr Andrews’ failed bid to build a ‘ring of steel’ around Sydney during the national cabinet meeting on Friday.
The plan, which involved stationing a police officer throughout the city to prevent people from fleeing, was employed during Melbourne’s second lockdown, which lasted until 2020, to safeguard regional areas and other states from infection.
However, following the national cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Scott Morrison claimed that such a policy was unnecessary since stay-at-home restrictions were sufficient to keep the virus at bay.
On Saturday, Victoria recorded 12 new locally acquired COVID-19 illnesses, 10 of which were quarantined for the duration of their infectious period.
All of the infections have been connected to the present outbreak.
The numbers continue the state’s good decreasing trend in new diagnoses, which began on Friday with 14 cases and ended on Thursday with 26.
In Victoria, 19,281 vaccination doses were given out in the last 24 hours, and 39,846 COVID tests were performed.
The present restrictions in Victoria, the state’s fifth lockdown, are supposed to be lifted on July 27, but Mr Andrews says health officials need more information before making a decision.