The thousands of anti-vaxxer protesters who took to the streets of cities across Australia to protest against lockdowns and the coronavirus vaccine rollout will be the most likely to die if their mass demonstrations trigger a Covid-19 superspreader event, a Nobel Prize-winning doctor has warned.
Mass demonstrations were held in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane on Saturday to protest the latest cycle of harsh lockdowns which have subjected 14million Australians to harsh stay-at-home restrictions, but could end up forcing Victoria’s Covid restrictions to be extended and cause Sydney case numbers to explode.
Activists in Melbourne chanted anti-vax slogans and set off smoke flares as they gathered for a ‘Freedom Rally’, while in Sydney 57 residents were taken away in handcuffs as protesters hurled pot plants at mounted officers and frenzied crowds shouted repeatedly at police: ‘you serve us!’
At one point during the chaos, protesters were filmed crash tackling a policeman into a garden bed in front of Town Hall station in the city’s CBD as officers attempted to make an arrest.
Two of the estimated 3,500 protesters at Sydney’s rally were international Samoan rugby league player Frank Winterstein and his wife Taylor – both of whom are active anti-vaccination campaigners.
NRL star Frank Winterstein and his wife Taylor were among the thousands of protesters who took to the streets of Sydney to protest against the city’s lockdown
One woman cheers with joy during the protests in Sydney with thousands turning out to demand an end to lockdowns
Protesters were met by mounted police outside Town Hall in Sydney (pictured) with no group prepared to back down
Protests were also held in Brisbane against lockdowns despite the Queensland capital not being under stay-at-home orders
Protesters are pictured as Bourke Street Mall during the anti-coronavirus lockdown protest in Melbourne on Saturday
‘Be prepared for all scenarios including arrests and fines,’ Ms Winterstein posted on social media while sharing footage of the rallies while not wearing a mask.
‘I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees.
‘There is more of us than there is them, they cannot arrest us all.’
Decorated Australian immunologist Professor Peter Doherty warned those who are the most likely to die from the virus are the unvaccinated, adding that even if most of the population has received the jab, the virus can still be passed on to those who haven’t.
He noted that 97 per cent of patients in hospital with Covid-19 in the US were unvaccinated – a stark reminder to Australians to roll up their sleeves and get the jab.
‘The people who will die will be the unvaccinated,’ he told The Sunday Telegraph.
Huge protests in Melbourne could see Victoria’s lockdown extended, police warned after so-called ‘Freedom Day’ demonstrators chanted anti-vax slogans, blocked traffic and set off flares outside Parliament
Anti-lockdown protests in Sydney and Melbourne on Saturday led to dozens of arrests of demonstrators who defied stay-at-home orders as they called for an end to Australia’s strategy of lockdowns to limit the spread of Covid-19
The demonstrations are a response to Covid lockdowns imposed in New South Wales, 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
There are now fears the reckless protests across the country could morph into devastating Covid super spreader events, which – ironically – could see lockdowns extended
‘While vaccinated people are more than 90 per cent protected against hospitalisation, they can still become infected and transmit. Once we open up, globally or locally, unvaccinated people will be at major risk.’
While vaccinations are effective in lowering transmission of the deadly virus they don’t eradicate the spread completely.
‘You can’t rely on just sliding by because other people are vaccinated, you have to be vaccinated yourself. It is a responsibility to get vaccinated for their own sake and the sake of their families,’ he said.
Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton also hit out at protesters, saying the demonstrations would not free Australians from Covid and warned the pandemic was far from over.
Police made six arrests in Melbourne on Saturday and are hunting for a protester who allegedly threw a large bollard at a mounted officer.
The charges stemming from that protest included drug possession and refusing to provide contact details to police and at least one was charged with assaulting an emergency worker.
A further 70 demonstrators in Melbourne face fines but police believe that number will increase.
Mounted police in the Victorian city were also attacked by activists.
Pictured are protesters – one wearing a Spiderman costume – demonstrating against coronavirus lockdowns in Brisbane
Brisbane is not in lockdown this weekend but that did not stop large crowds gathering in the Queensland city to demonstrate against coronavirus restrictions
New South Wales police released images of a protester allegedly punching a horse called Tobruk, who they later confirmed was unharmed
Victoria Assistant Police Commissioner Luke Cornelius said the protesters were ‘selfish’ and their actions could lead to the state’s lockdown being extended.
‘It beggars belief that the protest today could, if mass spreading occurs, result in an extension of the very thing they are protesting for — an end to the current lockdown and a reopening of business, which is something we are all working so hard to achieve,’ he said.
Mr Sutton took to Twitter to point out the irony in protestors claiming their cause was ‘freedom’.
‘I love freedom. Who doesn’t love freedom? I want freedom from being amongst the over 4 million official (and likely 10 million actual) Covid deaths globally,’ he wrote.
‘Let’s not pretend that ‘marching for freedom’ will actually deliver the precious freedom that we all need and desire.
‘New variants could still be catastrophic for much of the world – Australia included.’
He said ‘giving up’ on trying to prevent Covid spread could be disastrous.
‘Letting infections potentially overwhelm our health system will cause illness and death at an awful scale,’ he said.
Wild protests erupted in Melbourne and around Australia on Saturday and thousands of reckless residents demanded an end to lockdowns
Police are seen firing capsicum spray towards protesters that selfishly put others at risk amid a recent Covid outbreak
One woman dressed in all black without a mask marched through the anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne
A policeman is seen covered in ink after being abused by violent protesters in Sydney on Saturday
With the help of his colleagues the young officer is seen trying to wipe off the ink that was thrown onto his uniform and skin
Police had no choice but to carry one man into custody after a brazen performance during Melbourne’s anti-lockdown rally
Some protesters took it upon themselves to set off smoke bombs during protests in Melbourne where six were arrested
One man with blood dripping from his nose is seen being walked away in handcuffs during violent anti-lockdown protests in Sydney on Saturday
Earlier, horrifying footage from the Sydney rally showed angry protesters attacking police and hurling pot plants at officers on horseback.
Frenzied crowds were heard screaming ‘you serve us!’ to police as a group of protesters were filmed crash tackling officers into a garden bed in front of Town Hall station.
At least five officers were seen struggling to take down a single protester, before then carrying him away in handcuffs as crowds of demonstrators hurled abuse at police.
A group of mounted officers trying to disperse the crowds were also seen trying to dodge pot plants and water bottles being thrown at them as the protesters refused to back down.
NSW Police posted a photo of a protester allegedly punching a horse on Saturday evening and pleaded with the public to identify the man.
‘Good news! Troop horse Tobruk was not injured and is recovering back at the stables after a hard day’s work,’ a police Facebook post later read.
A woman sobs while being led out of Victoria Park by two policemen during violent protests in Sydney
One officer had to hold down a protester in Sydney’s Victoria Park as anti-lockdown rallies escalated around the country
Another protester flanked by police officers is arrested during rallies over the weekend on Sydney
One protestor tried his luck to escape police during a rally in Melbourne but the reckless man was eventually tackled to the ground
Another man is seen on the ground after being tackled by police in Sydney as thousands gathered to demonstrate against the city’s lockdowns
The demonstrations, which were also seen in Brisbane, were a response to Covid lockdowns imposed in New South Wales, 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.
But there are now fears the reckless protests across the country could morph into devastating Covid super spreader events.
NSW Police Minister David Elliott labelled those at the rallies as ‘boofheads’ and said 90 had been fined across the state with more arrests expected.
‘What we saw today was 3,500 very selfish boofheads — people that thought the law didn’t apply to them,’ he said.
‘If we don’t see a [Covid] spike in the areas these protesters came from in the next week I’ll be very, very surprised,’ Elliott said.
‘It was just a whole lot of halfwits. There is no doubt in my mind that at least one individual there today had COVID, it is statistically impossible for us not to consider that.
‘I’m appealing to all 3,500 people to get tested tomorrow, if not for themselves for the sake of their family and friends.’
Chaos in Sydney: Tens of thousands swarmed George Street in the CBD for the anti-lockdown protest on Saturday
More than 7,000 protesters also walked out in Brisbane on Saturday
One Queenslander carries a ‘Trump was right’ poster during an anti-lockdown rally on Saturday
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also unleashed on the protesters and said punishments would be handed down to those who broke the law.
‘I am utterly disgusted by the illegal protesters in the City today whose selfish actions have compromised the safety of all of us’ said Ms Berejiklian.
‘The protestors have shown utter contempt for their fellow citizens who are currently doing it tough.
‘I want to thank the brave police officers who put their own safety on the line to ensure the protest action ceased.’
The police minister also said a team of 22 detectives would be working tirelessly to identify as many of the illegal protesters as possible.
Frenzied crowds were heard shouting ‘freedom’ and anti-vaccine slogans as they swarmed Sydney’s city centre from midday on Saturday, just moments after NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty declared the area a virus hotspot.
Some carried signs with disturbing messages such as ‘no tests, no cases, no lockdown’ while one woman proudly donned a jumper with the words ‘Covid is a scam’ knitted across it.
Others held signs high above their heads urging Australians to ‘wake up’ and ‘get off your knees’, while another cardboard poster declared the message: ‘The new world order is the real virus’.
One group of five protesters, all who wouldn’t be named, told Daily Mail Australia they’d travelled from the Covid-ravaged south-west of Sydney for the rally.
‘We don’t give a f*** mate, this lockdown is killing us,’ one said.
The streets of Melbourne were flooded with protesters, with some letting off orange flares as others clashed with police
Essential exercise? Two women wearing activewear were spotted in the middle of a chanting crowd in Victoria Park, where the rally began before moving through to the CBD
Thousands turned out in Sydney and Melbourne (pictured) demanding an end to Covid-19 lockdowns
One woman in Sydney is seen proudly holding a sign which reads: ‘The new world order is the real virus’
Another Sydneysider proudly donned a homemade jumper with the words ‘Covid is a scam’ knitted across it
One man in Sydney was seen urging Australians to ‘wake up and get off your knees’ during reckless protests on Saturday
One woman climbed onto the top of a Woolworths store to demonstrate her ridiculous views on Covid and lockdowns
One maskless woman appears to be enjoying herself during the anti-lockdown protest in Sydney
A horde of residents donned ‘freedom of choice’ t-shirts during the rally on Saturday. There are fears the protests across the country could spark a huge Covid super spreader event
More ralliers climbed on top of a store with one bizarrely wearing a Gladys Berejiklian mask while they expressed their ridiculous views
Mounted police and riot squad officers were seen trying to contain chanting crowds and direct the flow of protesters near Broadway as traffic backed up 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’.
The group had also hung up a banner reading ‘Freedom’.
Police told the crowd gathered outside Town Hall about 2.40pm that they need to disperse if they ‘don’t want to get pepper sprayed’.
One Sydney resident took to Twitter 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.
On more than one occasion things turned ugly with protesters left bleeding as they tried to defy police officers with several trying their luck at fighting them off.
One man attempted to run away from an officer before he was eventually dragged down to the ground.
Protesters even went so far as to throw ink at police, with photos showing an officer’s uniform covered in a deep blue tinge as his colleague attempted to wipe him clean.
A group of protesters in Sydney’s Town Hall are seen on Saturday with one donning a Gladys Berejiklian mask
Police confirmed they made a number of arrests at the wild protest in Sydney which began at Victoria Park
A line of police officers outside Flinders Street station in Melbourne faced off against enraged protesters
The protesters in their thousands make their way through the Sydney CBD on Saturday afternoon (pictured)
Thousands gathered in Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday afternoon – with flares lit outside Victoria’s Parliament House.
Police formed a barrier on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets in the CBD where they held back the crowd chanting ‘you work for us’.
Mounted officers told the group to disperse with a number of protesters being detained.
In Brisbane around 7,500 people turned out the to the city’s botanic gardens refusing to wear masks in an anti-lockdown protest – despite the city not being under stay-at-home orders.
A car rally was also planned for locked-down Adelaide, with police warning they will make arrests over unlawful activity.
Stunned Sydneysiders took to social media to describe the protests in their city which is believed to have had the biggest turnout.
‘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.
‘These people are protesting the lockdowns. Obviously because they don’t want to be Locked down,’ said another.
‘So they decide to protest, breathing on each other, spreading covid, causing the positive cases and spread to rise, which therefore extends the lockdown they are protesting?’
One woman held her phone out to film the chaotic scenes in Victoria Park as protesters clashed with police
Protesters and police clash in the Sydney CBD with reports police had deployed pepper spray as the crowd grew increasingly unruly (pictured)
Protesters were seen in Melbourne holding anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown signs, including ‘I don’t consent’ and ‘Covid is a scam’
The thousand strong crowd of protesters outside Melbourne’s iconic Flinder Streets station (pictured)
Flares were let off in the streets of Melbourne as the frenzied crowd continued to march in the city’s CBD
Anti-vax and proud: Some of the protesters were seen wearing ‘unvaxxed and unafraid’ jumpers
Police are seen trying to hold back a crowd as they hurl pot plants towards them during violent protests in Sydney
One man is seen being taken away in handcuffs with almost 60 Sydneysiders arrested on Saturday
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 and brandishing fire twirling sticks.
A father and son from Fairfield told Daily Mail Australia they’d travelled from Sydney’s Covid ground-zero to the CBD to be a part of the rally, insisting they ‘aren’t scared of police’.
Another protester, wearing a face shield, said he wasn’t anti-mask but was anti-lockdown.
‘I’m against lockdowns, they’re killing my business,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘That’s why we’re all here.’
Another person said their friend was pepper sprayed by police.
Thousands of protesters not wearing masks stand in front of a line of police in front of Town Hall in Sydney (pictured)
There were reports protesters had fireworks and that police (pictured) were deploying pepper spray
The protesters (pictured) marched from Victoria Park to Town Hall in the CBD were they were met by mounted police
Protesters sung out the Australian national anthem as the near 10,000-strong made their way past Central Station.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard had 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’.
One woman in Melbourne was pictured handing out flowed to the line of police in the city’s CBD
One man appears pleased with himself after being escorted from the protests by police (pictured) on Saturday
‘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 while signs carried called 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.
There are fears the dense crowds in Sydney (pictured) and Melbourne would cause the virus case number to surge
Melbourne CBD traffic was brought to a halt as the protesters flooded through the streets (pictured)
The crowd in Melbourne (pictured) lit flares and waved flags as they marched near Flinders Street station (pictured)
Signs were displayed the crowd including many saying they ‘unmasked and unvaccinated’ (pictured)
Mounted police in Sydney with hi-vis and protective headgear which was also fitted to their horses (pictured)
Police made a number of arrests on Saturday (pictured) with the crowds breaking Public Health Orders
Police escort one man away from the crowd (pictured). They protest was held illegally as no authorisation was submitted and crowds were in breach of health directives
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.
The crowd in Sydney started the day at Victoria Park (pictured) and then made their way into the city
One man displays a Eureka Stockade flag as he marches through Victoria Park (pictured)
Protesters as Victoria Park held signs demanding freedom from lockdowns imposed to kerb an outbreak of Coronavirus
Officers escort a man through Victoria Park on Saturday about midday (pictured)
Multiple arrests were made (pictured) with the crowd growing increasingly unruly as the day went on
Some of the group held signs reading ‘No tests, no cases, no lockdown’ as the city struggles to contain an outbreak of the delta variant of Covid
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.
Some of the protesters wore masks but were not practicing social distancing (pictured)
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.
The protests began at Victoria Park with some of those attending being led away by police early on in the rally (pictured)
The crowd meets a blockade of police officers some with horses (pictured)
A man protesting the lockdown brought in to contain the spread of the delta variant of Covid is led away by police at Victoria Park (pictured)
A line of police in Melbourne stands their ground against protesters on Flinders Street (pictured)
Police (pictured) were aware of the protests beforehand but they had no approval lodged after the application was withdrawn
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