How Melbourne’s anti-lockdown protests compare to world

 

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to cut a swath around the globe with 30 million cases and close to a million deaths (the US is the hardest hit country with 6.5 million cases and close to 200,000 deaths), government measures to contain the virus have been witnessing a global pushback, with large numbers of people taking to the streets in various countries to protest the mandatory use of face masks and other lockdown rules.

 

Riot police at Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne. Picture: Getty Images
Riot police at Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne. Picture: Getty Images

 

Demonstrations all around the world against government responses to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have been driven by thousands who believe the virus is a hoax or the lockdown regulations are an infringement of civil liberties.

Others, including conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, and members of the far-right believe the virus has been orchestrated as a way to enslave global populations for profit by biotech firms, left-leaning governments or tech capitalists.

The protests - which have taken place in major cities such as London, New York, Berlin and Paris, have now spread to Melbourne where, over the weekend, 74 people were arrested after protesters locked horns in a tense standoff with police at Queen Victoria Market, where hundreds gathered to protest strict coronavirus lockdowns.

Here, we take a look at Melbourne's lockdown protests and how they compare to the rest of the world.

 

Protesters in Melbourne. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Geraghty
Protesters in Melbourne. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Geraghty

 

 

VICTORIA

Australia cases: 26, 651

Deaths: 810

Victoria has been Australia's hotspot for coronavirus cases and fatalities with 19,835 cases and 723 deaths.

As Melbourne continues to deal with tough stage four restrictions, protesters took to the city's streets over the weekend to demonstrate the strict measures.

More than a thousand anti-lockdown protesters were expected to rally again after a Melbourne Freedom Walk had been organised on Facebook. A woman protests in Fitzroy Gardens. Picture: Alex Coppel.
More than a thousand anti-lockdown protesters were expected to rally again after a Melbourne Freedom Walk had been organised on Facebook. A woman protests in Fitzroy Gardens. Picture: Alex Coppel.

 

Victoria Police arrested 74 people and issued at least 176 fines at a second day of anti-lockdown demonstrations after protesters gathered at Queen Victoria Market, where they were

met by riot police.

Up to 250 people are believed to have attended the rally.

"Freedom Day" events were held across Australia over the weekend to protest what some labelled the government's "overblown" response to the pandemic, which has killed more than 900,000 people worldwide.

 

 

Police make arrests to lockdown protesters in Melbourne. Picture: Matrix
Police make arrests to lockdown protesters in Melbourne. Picture: Matrix

 

The previous weekend, at least 15 people were arrested at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance and Albert Park after at least 200 protesters defied the city's stage-four lockdowns to hold an anti-lockdown rally.

The Shrine protest was planned in defiance of lockdown restrictions, mandates on mask-wearing in Victoria, 5G, vaccinations and "child trafficking and paedophilia".

Victoria police took a hard line approach to the protests in the lead-up to Saturday, charging five people with incitement for their alleged involvement in organising the protest.

 

Police patrol at Melbourne anti-lockdown protests. Picture: Matrix
Police patrol at Melbourne anti-lockdown protests. Picture: Matrix

 

Anti-lockdown / Freedom protesters in Melbourne. Picture: Matrix
Anti-lockdown / Freedom protesters in Melbourne. Picture: Matrix

 

 

Police on horseback at anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne. Picture: Matrix
Police on horseback at anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne. Picture: Matrix

 

Police mask up against the anti-mask movement in Melbourne. Picture: Matrix
Police mask up against the anti-mask movement in Melbourne. Picture: Matrix

 

LONDON

UK cases: 369,000

Deaths: 41,628

Protests against the UK's COVID-19 lockdown, were held across the country, in cities such as Manchester, Leicester and Southampton in April and May, with stand-offs against police and many arrests.

More than 10,000 people gathered in London's Trafalgar Square in late August as a part of the "Unite for Freedom" movement to protest against lockdown restrictions and the possibility of a mandatory vaccine.

 

 

A growing number of conspiracy theorists believe coronavirus is a hoax. Picture: Getty Images
A growing number of conspiracy theorists believe coronavirus is a hoax. Picture: Getty Images

 

Anti-mask protesters participate in the Unite for Freedom protest outside Downing Street on in London. Picture: Getty Images
Anti-mask protesters participate in the Unite for Freedom protest outside Downing Street on in London. Picture: Getty Images

 

The rally called for an "end to Government lies" and the "restoration of all freedoms."

Protesters gathered in London's Trafalgar Square holding signs warning that coronavirus is a "scam" and a "hoax". Others wrote "no to mandatory vaccines".

Another called the World Health Organisation the "World Hoax Organisation" and someone else proudly held a sign calling for an "end to medical tyranny".

More than 41,000 people have now died from the virus in UK, but one man's sign said it was "fake science" and comparable to a "bad flu".

 

British police look on. Picture: Getty Images
British police look on. Picture: Getty Images

 

 

One protester unfurled a flag showing the symbol of the British Union of Fascists while another woman was seen promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory that believes a cabal of Satan-worshipping Democrats, Hollywood celebrities and billionaires run the world while engaging in paedophilia.

More recently, England moved from a state of national lockdown to more targeted local lockdowns. The government gave powers to local authorities to implement lockdowns based on the scale of local outbreaks. Different rules are in place for some towns and cities.

Coronavirus has been accelerating across Britain again, causing the government to bring in or maintain restrictions.

 

Anti-mask protesters at a march in London in August. Picture: Getty Images
Anti-mask protesters at a march in London in August. Picture: Getty Images

 

BERLIN

Germany cases: 259,000

Deaths: 9421

There have been numerous anti-pandemic protests across Germany, many of them associated with the rise of the far-right.

Around 1000 people gathered in Berlin near the Volksbühne theatre, and hundreds of others protested in Stuttgart on April 26, after a month of protests against government lockdown measures.

Thousands gathered in Berlin on August 1 and August 29 to protest mask restrictions and government coronavirus measures.

City authorities had banned the planned protest, citing the flouting of social distancing but a court overturned the ban as undemocratic.

A demonstrator stands in front of riot police in Berlin in a protest against coronavirus-related restrictions and government policy. Picture: Getty Images
A demonstrator stands in front of riot police in Berlin in a protest against coronavirus-related restrictions and government policy. Picture: Getty Images

 

A woman wearing panties as a face mask derides riot police among protesters gathered to rally against coronavirus restrictions. Picture: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
A woman wearing panties as a face mask derides riot police among protesters gathered to rally against coronavirus restrictions. Picture: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

 

Tens of thousands of people including coronavirus sceptics, conspiracy enthusiasts, hippies, right-wing extremists, religious conservatives and others converged on Berlin to attend the protests. Picture: Getty Images
Tens of thousands of people including coronavirus sceptics, conspiracy enthusiasts, hippies, right-wing extremists, religious conservatives and others converged on Berlin to attend the protests. Picture: Getty Images

Tens of thousands of protesters from a wide range of backgrounds, from people who doubt the danger of the coronavirus pandemic to conspiracy theorists to right-wing extremists participated in the protests and marches.

A number of people were arrested and German politicians condemned the attack as "shameful" and "unacceptable".

 

A man wearing a Corona beer bag and a Querdenker Q flag attends a gathering of coronavirus sceptics in Berlin. Picture: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
A man wearing a Corona beer bag and a Querdenker Q flag attends a gathering of coronavirus sceptics in Berlin. Picture: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

 

Some of those involved had insignia from the far-right Reichsbürger (Reich Citizens) movement. Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz said: "Nazi symbols as well as Reichsbürger and Imperial German flags have no place in the German Bundestag."

Earlier some 200 people were arrested at one rally, which the authorities blamed on right-wing agitators who were said to have thrown stones and bottles.

In Munich, in the country's South, demonstration was called by the German far-right and COVID-19 deniers against the ongoing virus restrictions mandated by the Merkel government.

Demonstrators included right-leaning nationalists critical of the government regulation of personal freedoms.

 

 

 

MADRID, SPAIN

Spain cases: 566,000

Deaths: 29,747

Early on, with Italy, Spain was one of the hardest hit countries. But that hasn't stopped anti-lockdown protesters, anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists from protesting.

In late August, thousands of protesters descended on Madrid's Plaza de Colon chanting "freedom" and held up signs, some of which read, "The virus does not exist," "Masks kill," and "We are not afraid," according to reports.

Many protesters were not wearing masks during the rally.

 

Protests in Madrid. Picture: Getty Images
Protests in Madrid. Picture: Getty Images

 

The mandatory use of masks was put in place in May for those using public transportation and was later expanded to the rest of the country.

"They are forcing us to use a mask, they want us to stay home practically locked up. It's obvious that they are continuously tricking us with talk of outbreaks. It's all a lie," one protester told AFP at the demonstration.

Following the lifting of its three-month lockdown in June, Spain has seen a spike in new infections.

 

Spanish riot police clash with protesters in Madrid. Picture: Getty Images
Spanish riot police clash with protesters in Madrid. Picture: Getty Images

 

ZAGREB, CROATIA

Croatia cases: 13,533

Deaths: 224

Several thousand people protested against measures imposed by the authorities due to the coronavirus pandemic in Croatia.

 

People hold placards reading "Health is in our hands" and "We are awake, very awake" as several thousand people protest against measures imposed by the authorities due to the coronavirus pandemic in Croatian capital's main square in Zagreb on September 5, 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

ROME, ITALY

Cases: 286,000

Deaths: 35,610

Despite being one of the epicentres of coronavirus, with 286,000 cases and 35,610 deaths, the "No Mask" movement flourishes in Italy with anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, and COVID deniers protesting the government's lockdown response in Rome.

Protesters held banners urging "No mask at school, no distancing" and "long live freedom".

 

 

 

 

 

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND

Scotland cases: 22,214

Deaths: 2500

Protesters gathered outside the Scottish parliament entrance to demonstrate against a secondary lockdown, coronavirus face covering rules and the search for a vaccine on September 10.

The group, known as Saving Scotland, said it is "time to stand up together" and fight "for the freedom to choose" and listen to real scientific evidence in regard to the health of the Scottish people.

 

Protesters holding placards outside the Scottish parliament entrance to demonstrate against a secondary lockdown, coronavirus face covering rules and vaccines. Picture: Getty Images
Protesters holding placards outside the Scottish parliament entrance to demonstrate against a secondary lockdown, coronavirus face covering rules and vaccines. Picture: Getty Images

 

Protesters ranging from nationalists to COVID deniers gathered outside Scottish parliament. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell – Pool/Getty Images
Protesters ranging from nationalists to COVID deniers gathered outside Scottish parliament. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell – Pool/Getty Images

 

UNITED STATES

Cases: 6.5 million

Deaths: 194,000

 

Protests organised by conservative groups including Republican activists, armed militia supporters, anti-vaccination advocates, conspiracy theorists, libertarians, right wing extremists, religious conservatives, and guns rights activists have occurred across the country.

Protesters, many without face masks, opposed the shelter-in-place orders in their states for various reasons including what they believed to be government over-regulation that infringed on personal freedom.

Many were motivated to be anti-lockdown so that businesses could stay open and provide employment.

Others were pro-Trump, waving banners and signs.

US President Donald Trump issued guidelines for how to ease restrictions, saying that state governors could decide how to reopen their own states and for a long time was a proponent of non-mask wearing.

 

PENNSYLVANIA, US

Hundreds of people including local politicians gathered in Pennsylvania to protest stay at home orders.

 

 

 

 

SAN DIEGO, US

 

Activists protested the California lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic in San Diego, California.

The protesters demanded opening small businesses, and churches as well as expressing support for US President Trump.

 

 

 

VIRGINIA, US

Virginians protested against stay-at-home orders related to the coronavirus pandemic at Capitol Square in Richmond, Virginia concerned that it was bringing the state to an economic standstill.

 

 

NORTH CAROLINA, US

Protesters from a grassroots organisation called "REOPEN NC" protested the coronavirus lockdown, demanding the state economy be opened up.

 

MICHIGAN, US

Demonstrators protested in Lansing, Michigan, during a rally organised by Michigan United for Liberty to protest the coronavirus pandemic stay-at-home orders, fearing unemployment.

 

 

 

TEXAS, US

Despite an astonishing 684,000 cases in Texas, and more than 14,000 deaths, the anti-mask movement in the Lone Star State is strong, with protesters calling for the state and the country to be opened up despite the risk of the COVID-19.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as How Melbourne's anti-lockdown protests compare to world



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