Anti-lockdown protests grip multiple Australian cities, dozens arrested

Protests have been taking place in multiple cities of Australia against restrictions imposed to tackle rising coronavirus infections.

Thousands gathered in Sydney, in Melbourne and Brisbane.

People chanted “freedom” as they marched through the centre of Sydney. Officers said they had made 57 arrests.

Australian governments have re-imposed lockdowns across the country amid a surge in new infections.

The arrival of the highly contagious Delta variant has challenged the country’s previous strategy of border closures, quarantine programmes and snap lockdowns which helped keep cases low.

Vaccination rates remain the lowest among developed nations, with fewer than 14% of people jabbed.

On Saturday thousands of people marched to the centre of Sydney through the suburb of Haymarket.

New South Wales (NSW) health authority declared the area a Covid hotspot. Placards read “Drop your mask, raise your voice” and “Wake Up Australia”.

Protesters blocked roads and gathered outside Sydney’s town hall.

Smaller events also took place in Melbourne, where people lit flares outside Parliament House, and in Brisbane, at the Botanic Gardens.

Some 13 million Australians are under lockdown Sydney has now been under lockdown for four weeks, but continues to see cases rise.

NSW officials announced a record increase of 163 new infections on Saturday.

The country has overall recorded 32,594 cases and 916 deaths.