SYDNEY:Thousands of anti-lockdown protesters have taken to the streets of Sydney and other major Australian cities to protest against coronavirus restrictions as infections hit a new record and authorities warned of a “growing problem”. The New South Wales (NSW) Police Force accused the protest activity as unauthorised and said a high-visibility policing operation was launched in response to it, according to reports.
There was a heavy police presence in the city, including mounted police and riot officers in response to what authorities said was unauthorised protest activity. The protesters marched towards the downtown through the suburb of Haymarket, which had just moments earlier been declared a virus hotspot by the state's health department, according to a report by national broadcaster ABC.
"Officers from across Central Metropolitan Region, assisted by specialist resources, were deployed. So far during the operation, a number of people have been arrested," NSW Police Force said in a statement on Saturday afternoon. Australia's most populous state of SW, with Sydney as the capital city, recorded on Saturday a new high of 163 new locally acquired cases of Covid-19, a jump from the previous day's 136. Health Minister Brad Hazzard urged residents, particularly in south-western Sydney, to abide by the stay-at-home rules as state police issued 246 penalty notices in 24 hours for people breaching restrictions.