Government-mandated lockdowns continued in Australia this week despite widespread protests against the COVID regulations, with police officers warning that demonstrators must “stay at home or face legal action.”
“To anybody planning to breach public health orders and attend an illegal mass gathering this weekend, our message is clear: Don’t do it,” said an official from New South Wales (NSW).
“We are not opposed to free speech. We are absolutely opposed to a protest that potentially jeopardizes the freedom of the vast majority of the community that continue to do the right thing,” added a member of the New South Wales Police Force. “We are absolutely opposed to a protest that allows people to gather and in doing so has the potential to risk the health and safety of the majority of the community.”
Warning issued to would-be protesters: Stay at home or face legal action.
Senior police have issued a strong warning to anyone planning to attend an unauthorised protest planned for this weekend that they will face the full force of the law.https://t.co/qIru1ZaDtc pic.twitter.com/gNW0oplqi0
— NSW Police Force (@nswpolice) August 18, 2021
The Police Department issued a formal statement on the upcoming protests:
Senior police have issued a strong warning to anyone planning to attend an unauthorised protest planned for this weekend that they will face the full force of the law.
Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon, Metropolitan Field Operations, was joined by Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott today (Wednesday 18 August 2021), to put would-be protesters on notice.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services, David Elliott, said the activities of a few could have long-lasting and detrimental impacts to all Sydneysiders.
“The overwhelming majority of people in NSW are doing their bit to turn the COVID case numbers in the right direction and this proposed protest would undermine all that work,” Mr Elliott said.
“We’re temporarily living with restrictions that we all want to see lifted, but the mass gathering of a group of idiots could mean that day moves further into the future.
“I have complete confidence in the work police are doing within Operation Stay at Home and the operational plans for the weekend should reassure the wider community that officers are at the ready to take swift action against anyone not complying with the public health orders,” he said.
As the NSW Police Force continues to monitor online and other commentary in relation to protest activity this weekend, preparations are well underway for a highly visible and mobile police operation to disrupt activities and prevent mass gatherings anywhere in the state.
Read the full statement here.