Ten arrested in Melbourne anti-lockdown protest
MELBOURNE: Ten people were arrested and a police officer was injured yesterday at an anti-lockdown protest, where demonstrators claimed the coronavirus was a government-engineered conspiracy designed to control the population.
About 150 protesters rallied outside Victoria's state Parliament to protest against a shutdown aimed at stemming the spread of Covid-19, while also peddling conspiracy theories about the virus.
In scenes reminiscent of anti-lockdown protests in the US, demonstrators carried placards reading "fight for your freedom and rights", and directed their ire at the founder of Microsoft, chanting "arrest Bill Gates".
Mr Fano Panayides, 37, said he was sceptical of the government declaring the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, saying he believed it was a cover for the authorities to gain greater control over the population.
"If this thing was half as deadly as they said it was, with half the population out there still working - even with the lockdown orders - this thing would've spread like wildfire through Australia. There'd be no stopping it," he told AFP.
Health experts credit Australia's success in curbing the spread of Covid-19 to an effective nationwide shutdown.
A spokesman for Victoria police said 10 people were arrested at the rally, mostly for breaching social distancing and stay-at-home orders.
Australia has recorded about 7,000 cases of Covid-19 and fewer than 100 deaths.
Meanwhile, New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, will allow restaurants, playgrounds and outdoor pools to reopen on Friday.
Extensive testing has shown the spread of the coronavirus has slowed sharply, New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian said yesterday. - AFP, REUTERS