Dozens of Melburnians defied stern warnings from the police and turned up at a banned anti-lockdown rally, which was then swarmed by throngs of officers, who used full drive to impose harsh Covid-19 restrictions.

Dubbed a ‘freedom stroll’, the rally hit the streets of central Melbourne earlier on Saturday. Police equipped for an enormous turnout of protesters, sealing off the Tan Working Monitor and the Shrine of Remembrance – a venue of final weekend’s protests.

Some 1,500 folks declared their willingness to attend on-line, signing up via a now-deleted Fb group. Nonetheless, solely round 100 protesters really confirmed up. Photographs of lockdown dodgers making their approach downtown surfaced on-line simply previous to the occasion.

Many had been holding makeshift placards that known as the Covid-19 epidemic a hoax and contested Australia’s quarantine measures.

The ‘walkers’ attending had been predictably outweighed by a heavy police presence. Officers employed strong-armed ways, arresting a minimum of 14 protesters in entrance of tv cameras.

Including insult to harm, officers slapped fines on 51 folks for “infringement” exercise. Victoria Police earlier warned that anybody breaking lockdown restrictions may face a penalty of as much as $1,652.

Organizers branded the motion “a authorized stroll” that might allow Melburnians “to come back collectively, get wholesome and speak about getting our freedoms again.” That sentiment, nonetheless, didn’t play down effectively with Victoria Police, who repeatedly dished out stark warnings within the days main as much as the stroll, reminding those that any protest can be illegal.

Earlier this week, Melbourne and Victoria Police had been busy attempting to discourage the pool of potential protesters. Alleged organizers of the anti-lockdown rebel had been briefly arrested and banned from utilizing social media.

“Police had vital prevention exercise within the lead as much as and period of at this time’s which included visiting 90 individuals of curiosity to induce them to not attend,” a police spokesperson informed the media. 

Final weekend, an anti-lockdown protest resulted in huge scuffles. Riot squads forcibly pushed demonstrators again earlier than making dozens of arrests.

All of Melbourne has remained beneath strict stage-four lockdown since August. The quarantine measure, meant to comprise the native unfold of Covid-19, features a night-time curfew, with residents solely allowed to go away their homes for work and important well being, care, or security causes. 

READ MORE: ‘Like canine consuming personal vomit’: High Victoria cop erupts in anger as he repeats warning in opposition to becoming a member of Melbourne anti-lockdown rally

Individuals could store or train inside a five-kilometer radius of their house, with just one individual per family allowed to go away for important items at a time.

Dwelling to nearly 5 million folks, Melbourne has reported six new Covid-related deaths over the previous day, bringing the town’s complete demise toll to 716 – a lion’s share of the 803 fatalities in Australia. The metropolis additionally accounts for the majority of the nation’s greater than 26,500 coronavirus circumstances.