Tens of thousands of Australians have taken to the streets in protest of COVID-19 lockdown mandates. Since August, dozens of protestors have clashed with police, leading to a range of offenses including arrests and fines.
After mass demonstrations in New South Wales (NSW), police reported 510 penalty infringement notices with Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys condemning the protestors and calling their behavior “violent, filthy, [and] risky.” NSW Police Minister David Elliott told reporters that the department has brought on over 20 veteran officers to help investigate.
“A strike force is set up right at this moment that continues to ask for people to bring forward any video files or telephone footage that they have of that sort of behavior,” said Elliott. The department’s strategy is to identify through video footage and then locate the protestors.
Despite record low cases and deaths, Australian COVID-19 policies include closed borders, travel and gathering limits, and vaccine mandates in certain settings. States with new orders include New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, which include some of the country’s most populous cities such as Melbourne and Sydney.
Similar to efforts, including mask and vaccine mandates in America, a new wave of policies arrived after the spread of the Delta variant which caused a spike in cases. “We are in a very serious situation here in New South Wales,” state Health Minister Brad Hazzard said in August. “There is no time now to be selfish, it’s time to think of the broader community and your families.”
During the same month, authorities deployed the Australian military to enforce COVID-19 policies in large cities. Australian Defence Soldiers were ordered to work with other law enforcement in areas of high transmission to ensure citizens are not violating the lockdown measures. For instance, enforcing a six mile travel limit and closing state borders.