The true impact of the Sydney lockdown protest won’t be known for days, with one medical expert warning the thousands of people who attended could plunge all of NSW into lockdown. Greater Sydney is already preparing for another lockdown extension announcement this week, with the editor of the Medical Journal of Australia, Professor Nick Talley, saying there is a high chance demonstrators who traveled to the protest from outside Sydney could spread the virus into regional areas of the state.
RELATED: TikTok comedian charged over Sydney protests
“This was an idiotic thing to do, just idiotic. Yes, we risk a superspreader event,” he told 2GB on Monday morning. “There were people from, not only across Greater Sydney, but I also understand people outside Greater Sydney at those protests. “That means we might even risk outbreaks outside of Greater Sydney that really lead to the whole state locking down. Just a disaster.”
Thousands of people converged on the Sydney CBD on Saturday to protest the lockdown, with images and videos showing unmasked demonstrators packed tightly together shouting “freedom” and holding anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination signs. The demonstration quickly descended into chaos, with protesters reacting violently towards police officers and attacking police horses.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was “absolutely disgusted and disappointed” in those who attended the protest, warning it could lead to a “super-spreading” event. “We don’t want a setback, and yesterday could have been a setback. Time will tell,” she said on Sunday. “But I’m just so utterly disgusted, disappointed, and heartbroken that people don’t consider the safety and wellbeing of their fellow citizens.”
Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys described the events on Saturday as “violent, filthy, risky behavior”. He said a strike force had been set up to investigate the protest and urged anyone to submit it to Crime Stoppers with video footage, photos, or any information.
“The investigation into people’s behavior yesterday will continue for some time, so I expect over the next few days and perhaps weeks that several penalty infringement notices will continue to be high,” Mr. Worboys said. It comes as the NSW government has requested financial modeling to extend the Greater Sydney lockdown until mid-September.
According to The Australian, thestate’s crisis cabinet will convene this morning to discuss a significant lockdown extension, The publication reports a September 3 lockdown end date was originally considered, but officials are now understood to be modeling multiple financial scenarios, including one where stay-at-home orders remain in place until September 17.
Speaking to 2GB, Professor Talley said he wouldn’t be surprised if the lockdown remains in place into September. “NSW is in a terrible place, and, sadly, this is where we are now. I think it will be extended and how long – it’s unclear,” he said.
When asked why NSW has struggled to get this outbreak under control, Professor Talley said it was a combination of the highly-infectious nature of the Delta variant, not locking down early enough, and not having enough people vaccinated.
“I think we needed to squash it very hard very early if we were going to succeed fast enough, and that just didn’t happen. And of course we are largely unvaccinated which is also a problem and I think that’s why we are where we are,” he said. “We just have to deal with where we are now rather than worry about the past.”