Sydney anti-lockdown protest blocked as organisers vow to regroup in August

The anti-lockdown protests in Sydney planned for Saturday have been cancelled. Police believe that a crackdown on movement will prevent a repeat of last weekend's lockdown-violating mass demonstrations.The announcement by New South Wales health officials on Saturday morning of 210 new Delta cases was a sign that the operation would be a success. Michael Willing, deputy police commissioner, set the stage for a helicopter-operated operation, which included mounted police, helicopters, severe fines, and an exclusion zone in order to prevent potential protestors from gathering.Taxis and rideshare companies were prohibited from transporting passengers into Sydney's central business district. Individuals and businesses could face fines up to $500,000 and $100,000 respectively.The city had 1,000 police officers, along with 300 members of the defence force, who set up roadblocks at key roads. The exclusion zone extended from the Bradfield Highway at Milsons Point to the Harbour Bridge, to South Dowling Street at Zetland and east to New South Head Road at Ocean Avenue at Edgecliff. The harbour tunnel was also shut down.Police also stopped vehicles trying to enter Newtown via Sydney Park Road and Princes Highway. They checked for passengers and distances. Similar checks were also conducted at Paddington's Oxford Street.Mounted police were also present in Hyde Park when protesters attempted to enter the city's centre. However, a spokesperson for the police said that the operation on key roads had prevented any mass gathering.Minutes before the exclusion area was closed at 3pm, a spokesperson for police stated that they considered the operation a success and that there were no reports of any isolated incidents.The police increased their presence in areas that were not connected to the protests. Helicopters warned people who exercise at Gordons Bay or Bondi beach to not linger.Police in NSW conduct roadside inspections of motorists heading towards the Anzac Bridge. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty ImagesTelegram groups that coordinated the gathering of thousands on Saturday had urged followers to not attend. They warned it does not have a ground team and was given insufficient promotion time.Instead, the organizers asked followers to join them for a protest planned late in August.Telegram channel members who organised protests sent photos of police checkpoints along roads and in Hyde Park to warn others not to join. Others warned that the event was a trap for media.The Saturday scenes were a stark contrast to the scene a week prior, when thousands marched in major Australian cities by unmasked anti lockdown protesters.In relation to the last week's protest in Sydney, which saw around 3,500 people gather, 85 protesters were arrested and 300 people were fined. Despite the fact that the protests were against lockdown measures, anti-vaccination messages were also heard at the protests.Although there have been positive tests for some protesters from last week's protest, authorities are concerned that it may not be possible to see the full effect of the superpreader event in everyday cases. Protesters might not be tested.Brad Hazzard, the NSW Health Minister, responded to reports that four NSW Health employees, including two nurses and a paramedic, attended last week's protests.Hazzard stated that people in a democracy are allowed to demonstrate legally, but it wasn't a legal demonstration.The NSW government announced last week that it would extend the lockdown in greater Sydney for four weeks to stop the spread of the disease. Last week, daily case numbers broke records repeatedly.Authorities deny that contact tracers are overwhelmed. However, the exposure sites were released Saturday and included public transport routes starting almost two weeks ago. The isolation status of only 90 of Saturday's 210 cases has been determined by authorities.For the most part, daily testing has been around 100,000 for the past week. The system is under so much pressure that one pathologist has had to fly swabs across the country to diagnose patients in other states.