More than 200 people flouted social distancing restrictions to furiously demand an end to the coronavirus lockdown, criticising Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ decision to stick to strict lockdown measures despite National Cabinet unveiling a three-stage road map for lifting restrictions on Friday.
The protesters carried signs that read: “Fight for your freedom and rights”. They also chanted, “Arrest Bill Gates”.
At least five people were arrested during the protest.
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Mr Andrews kept Victoria in lockdown this weekend, explaining that no restrictions will be eased until a testing blitz is completed and the state of emergency is lifted on Monday.
Mr Andrews asked Victorians to “stay patient” on Friday, as he wants to be certain Victoria has the coronavirus under control.
However, protesters were showing no such attitude today, with dozens of police members on foot and on bikes at the rally.
The protesters believe coronavirus is a conspiracy and connected to 5G, and they’re against vaccinations and lockdown restrictions.
Speaking at a press conference today, Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said: “It’s incredibly disappointing that people would be protesting or seeking to suggest we don’t have a pandemic.
“We’ve had 18 Victorians lose their lives as a result of COVID-19.
“That’s incredibly disappointing that some individuals do not understand that these restrictions have been put in place to keep them safe, to keep their families safe and the whole of Victoria safe.”
Ms Mikakos remained tight-lipped over which restrictions might change this week in Victoria.
“The pandemic is not finished yet,” she said. “There would always need to be a staged approach to easing of restrictions.”
Ms Mikakos also said the Victorian testing blitz would continue even after restrictions were relaxed, reiterating that more information would be released by Mr Andrews tomorrow.
“Obviously, we will have more data to share with you tomorrow and that will enable us, of course, to consider some options and to make some important decisions about potentially lifting of restrictions.
Ms Mikakos urged Victorians to take advantage of the testing push still underway, even with mild symptoms.
“I want to thank Victorians but I also want to remind them that the blitz continues today, so they can present to one of those shopping centres which is offering the drive-through testing option as well as our screening clinics.”
The total number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Victoria is 1487 – an increase of 10 since yesterday.
To date, 18 people have died from coronavirus in Victoria.
Today’s confirmed cases include one related to the Cedar Meats outbreak, taking the total number of cases from that cluster to 76.
Despite the assurance that Monday will bring potential restriction announcements, Victorians expressed frustration given other states have moved ahead with the federal government’s three-stage plan.
Coronavirus lockdowns have led to similar protests in the United States and Germany.