‘Selfish boofheads’: Anger over protests as NSW records another 141 cases, two deaths

Authorities have lashed out at anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne and Sydney, as NSW revealed one woman who died from COVID-19 overnight was aged in her 30s and had no pre-existing medical conditions.

Protesters face off with mounted police at Sydney Town Hall during yesterday's protest. Two men were later arrested for punching police horses. Photo: AAP/Mick Tsikas

Protesters face off with mounted police at Sydney Town Hall during yesterday's protest. Two men were later arrested for punching police horses. Photo: AAP/Mick Tsikas

NSW on Sunday morning reported 141 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and two deaths, with at least 62 of newly diagnosed people out in the community for all or part of their infectious period.

Forty three people are in intensive care in NSW, 18 of whom require ventilation.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the woman in her 30s who died had no pre-existing conditions, demonstrating the severity of the virus.

“If anybody thinks this is a disease just affecting older people, please think again … younger people without pre-existing conditions can also fall victim to this cruel disease,” she said.

Two Sydney men will face court after being charged with punching police horses during a protest in the CBD yesterday.

The rally attracted more than 3000 people and was held as Sydney’s lockdown ticked over into a month and the state reported a record 163 Covid cases.

Protesters marched down George St, with a number of police officers injured as people threw plastic bottles and pot plants seized from the roadside.

Two men were charged with committing an act of cruelty upon an animal and failing to comply with public health orders, while one was also charged with assaulting a police officer.

Fifty-seven people have already been charged and 90 infringement notices issued while a police strike force has been established to hunt down those involved by analysing footage from social media, CCTV and police-worn body cameras.

NSW Police Minister David Elliott branded the protesters “very selfish boofheads”.

“Police will be contacting people … to have to answer for themselves and their behaviour, particularly the ringleaders,” he said.

Berejiklian said she was “utterly disgusted” by those who had shown “utter contempt for their fellow citizens”.

“This type of activity during lockdown will not be tolerated and the full force of the law will be brought against anyone who engages in this type of illegal activity,” she said.

An anti-lockdown rally in Melbourne was also broken up by police using pepper spray.

Thousands of protesters of all ages chanted “freedom” as they gathered outside Victoria’s Parliament House.

Victorian Premier Daniel Mr Andrews today called the protesters selfish.

“We don’t want to see people out and about selfishly putting their point of view ahead of the health and wellbeing of others,” he said.

“Everybody is entitled to an opinion, but you’re not entitled to put other people in danger.

“And that’s what yesterday was about. Ultimately, selfish behaviour that puts many other people in real danger.”

Andrews said it had been a difficult task to shut down the mass gathering without that in itself becoming an infection control nightmare.

“People understand that Victoria Police did their very best,” he said.

“But you know, we can’t vaccinate against selfishness and these people should be ashamed. Absolutely ashamed. It’s just wrong.”

Victoria’s COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar described protesters as a “small minority having a self-indulgent tantrum”.

Fed Govt rejects NSW call for new JobKeeper

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The NSW treasurer has called for the reintroduction of the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme amid Greater Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak.

Dominic Perrottet on Sunday called for the reintroduction of JobKeeper, telling Nine newspapers that workers were in danger of “slipping through the cracks” amid an extended lockdown.

He said JobKeeper was crucial in 2020 for maintaining the relationship between employers and stood-down employees.

But Treasurer Josh Frydenberg knocked back Perrottet’s suggestion, saying current support was adequate.

“It’s a lot more flexible, it’s available to casuals and it’s money that is going out the door as quickly as 40 minutes,” he told Sky News.

COVID-19 disaster payments in NSW range from $375 to $600 and the government says more than 600,000 payments have been administered.

Pfizer booster vaccines secured

Frydenberg also confirmed Australia has secured 85 million Pfizer vaccines as booster shots that will start next year.

Delivery will begin in the first quarter of 2022 and enable booster coverage throughout the year.

“This virus is not going away,” Frydenberg told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.

“There is one ticket out of this crisis and that’s vaccinations.”

Former Labor leader Bill Shorten said the announcement was better late than never.

“I don’t think Australia should waste time for the promise … I’m worried about the people in Sydney right now,” he told ABC’s Insiders program.

Given the growing crisis in NSW, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) now says any adult in the greater Sydney area are strongly recommending people receive the vaccine, regardless of which one they are eligible for.

ATAGI had previously recommended that those under 60 should only get the Pfizer jab because of the extremely rare risk of blood clotting from having the vaccine in younger people.

“That’s important because we know that we have got AstraZeneca available, but we haven’t seen a huge take-up,” Frydneberg said.

But he dismissed the idea that the AstraZenecaa vaccine is suffering from brand damage.

“No it’s not, because what we now have is the spread of the virus in NSW, the dangers that poses,” he said.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller agreed that the only way out of the crisis is vaccination.

“The way the Delta variant is running through, particularly in Sydney at the moment, is that I can’t see us getting down to zero for some time,” he told Sky News.

-with AAP

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