PROTEST: The anti-restriction rally was promoted on social media among groups with coronavirus conspiracy theories
Australian police announced that they arrested dozens of demonstrators in Melbourne this Saturday against official coronavirus restrictions in several cities across the country. Ignoring official warnings and public health regulations, several hundred people gathered for an illegal demonstration in Melbourne, the second-largest city of Australia.
The rally had been promoted on social media among groups following conspiracy theories related to the coronavirus and calling for an end to containment measures. Police said they handed over 160 fines for violating health regulations and expected to distribute even more in the coming days.
Before the demonstration, Daniel Andrews, Prime Minister of the State of Victoria, where Melbourne is located, called on the population to stay at home and warned that the rally could question the scenario of the end of the lockdown, details of which are awaited Sunday. “It’s not safe, it’s not smart, it’s illegal,” he told reporters. “In fact, it’s absolutely selfish,” he added.
748 deaths in this country of 25 million inhabitants
The demonstrators who chanted “freedom” and “scam”, faced a large mobilization of the police, the police trying to advance the crowd and arresting 17 people. Two demonstrators were seen giving a Nazi salute to the police, shouting “Heil Dan”, referring to Daniel Andrews. They were standing at that time on a memorial dedicated in part to the memory of Australians killed during World War II.
Several demonstrators told AFP they were protesting the government and the handling of the health crisis, saying the pandemic that has killed more than 865,000 people across the world has been exaggerated. “We are in a city where Daniel Andrews’ cure is actually worse than the situation,” said Fiona Kat, a protester. Rallies were also held across Australia for the day known as “Freedom Day”, and 14 people were arrested in Sydney and Byron Bay.
Despite the presence of a second wave in the state of Victoria, Australia is now in a position to gradually end restrictions in the rest of the country. More than 26,200 cases have been recorded for 748 deaths in this country of 25 million inhabitants.