World: Thousands protest lockdown in Sydney, several arrested

Australia tracking fresh COVID-19 cluster in Melbourne linked to Sydney outbreak

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SYDNEY (AP) — Thousands of people took to the streets of Sydney and other Australian cities on Saturday to protest lockdown restrictions amid another surge in cases, and police made several arrests after crowds broke through barriers and threw plastic bottles and plants.

A protester, center, is arrested by police at a demonstration at Sydney Town Hall during a 'World Wide Rally For Freedom' anti-lockdown rally in Sydney, Saturday, July 24, 2021. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP) © Provided by Associated Press A protester, center, is arrested by police at a demonstration at Sydney Town Hall during a 'World Wide Rally For Freedom' anti-lockdown rally in Sydney, Saturday, July 24, 2021. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP) Protesters and mounted police clash at Sydney Town Hall during a 'World Wide Rally For Freedom' anti-lockdown rally in Sydney, Saturday, July 24, 2021. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP) © Provided by Associated Press Protesters and mounted police clash at Sydney Town Hall during a 'World Wide Rally For Freedom' anti-lockdown rally in Sydney, Saturday, July 24, 2021. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP)

The unmasked participants marched from Sydney’s Victoria Park to Town Hall in the central business district, carrying signs calling for “freedom” and “the truth."

Australian officials tighten Sydney lockdown as COVID-19 cases rise

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Protesters march through the streets during a 'World Wide Rally For Freedom' anti-lockdown rally in Sydney, Saturday, July 24, 2021. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP) © Provided by Associated Press Protesters march through the streets during a 'World Wide Rally For Freedom' anti-lockdown rally in Sydney, Saturday, July 24, 2021. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP)

There was a heavy police presence in Sydney, including mounted police and riot officers in response to what authorities said was unauthorized protest activity. Police confirmed a number of arrests had been made.

New South Wales Police said it recognized and supported the rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, but the protest was a breach of public health orders.

“The priority for NSW Police is always the safety of the wider community,” a police statement said.

The protest comes as COVID-19 case numbers in the state reached another record with 163 new infections in the last 24 hours.

Australian states squabble as NSW seeks COVID vaccine priority

  Australian states squabble as NSW seeks COVID vaccine priority Australian states squabble as NSW seeks COVID vaccine prioritySYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's largest state of New South Wales on Friday urged the federal government to divert vaccine doses to Sydney, the epicentre of a flaring COVID-19 outbreak, raising objections from other states desperate for protection from the virus.

Greater Sydney has been locked down for the past four weeks, with residents only able to leave home with a reasonable excuse.

“We live in a democracy and normally I am certainly one who supports people’s rights to protest ... but at the present time we’ve got cases going through the roof and we have people thinking that’s OK to get out there and possibly be close to each other at a demonstration," said state Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

In Melbourne, thousands of protesters without masks turned out downtown chanting “freedom." Some of them lit flares as they gathered outside Victoria state’s Parliament House.

They held banners, including one that read: “This is not about a virus it’s about total government control of the people.”

A car protest rally is also planned in Adelaide, which is also under lockdown, with police warning they will make arrests over unlawful activity.

Sydney COVID lockdown could be eased if vaccination rate hits 50% .
Sydney COVID lockdown could be eased if vaccination rate hits 50%CANBERRA (Reuters) -Australia's New South Wales, home to Sydney, said on Tuesday it could ease a COVID-19 lockdown that demands five million people stay at home until the end of August if 50% of the population is vaccinated, even as new infections linger near a 16-month high.

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