Hundreds of fines were imposed and dozens indicted in Sydney after anti-containment protesters marched and clashed with police in what one deputy commissioner called “violent, dirty and risky behavior”.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was “totally disgusted” by the thousands of people who had violated the region’s coronavirus measures to protest, saying on Sunday that the scenes “m ‘had broken hearts’.
Detectives are now combing social media and CCTV and body camera footage worn by police to identify and punish anyone who defied stay-at-home orders, now entering their fifth week. Police imposed 510 fines on Saturday, the “vast majority” coming from Saturday’s protest. Two were charged with allegedly hitting a police horse.
State Police Minister David Elliott criticized Saturday’s unrest, saying “Sydney is not immune to morons.”
Victorian officials have criticized similar protests in the state capital, Melbourne. State Covid-19 testing commander Jeroen Weimar described those who have experienced stress as a “small minority having an indulgent temper tantrum”, with Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews warning that you “cannot vaccinate against selfishness ”.
The Sydney area is struggling to contain an outbreak of the Delta variant that started in Bondi last month, amid a slow vaccination rollout and a persistent violation of stay-at-home orders among family groups. Guardian Australia analysis found it could take months to reverse.
About half of Australia’s 25 million people are locked up in multiple cities and states, with growing anger at the federal government for a vaccination program that has completely inoculated less than 13% of the population since it began in February. .
New South Wales reported 141 more cases on Sunday and two deaths, including a woman in her 30s who had no pre-existing conditions. “If anyone thinks this is a disease affecting only the elderly, think again,” Berejiklian said.
The ugly scenes in Sydney and Melbourne, as well as Adelaide and Brisbane, were also reflected across Europe as people complained about Covid-19 measures and government restrictions aimed at improving use vaccines.
In France, police deployed tear gas and water cannons against some protesters, after around 160,000 people took to the streets in nationwide protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s health pass that will drastically reduce access to restaurants and public spaces for unvaccinated people.
The demonstrators chanted “freedom, freedom” and carried signs denouncing “Macron, tyrant”, “Big Pharma chains freedom” or saying “No to the pass of shame”.
Similar protests, attracting just over 110,000 people at 130 locations, took place across the country over the past weekend.
Legislation currently under consideration by lawmakers will make vaccinations compulsory for certain professions, while the controversial health pass will severely restrict the social life of recalcitrant from the end of July.
There were signs that the tougher measures, announced on July 13, were having the desired effect: 48% of the population was fully vaccinated on Friday, up eight percentage points from July 10.
While more than three-quarters of the French have supported Macron’s measures, according to an Elabe poll for BFMTV on July 13, a large and vocal minority is not doing so. Macron, as next year’s presidential election approaches, must appease the deeply rooted anti-vax contingent in the country. Two vaccination centers have recently been physically attacked.
In Italy, protesters gathered in Rome to protest a mandatory ‘green pass’ for indoor dining and entertainment.
Meanwhile, around 5,000 people demonstrated in Athens, Greece, carrying signs extolling slogans such as “Do not touch our children”, according to a journalist from Agence France-Presse present at the scene.