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Covid Australia: Anti-embargo protesters condemned

Australian politicians have condemned protests against coronavirus restrictions amid a surge in cases.

Thousands of people gathered in Sydney on Saturday to demand an end to the blockade measures, and smaller demonstrations also took place in Melbourne and Brisbane.

At least 57 people involved in the Sydney protests were charged, while more than 500 people were fined.

On Sunday, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the protesters “should be ashamed of themselves”.

“It breaks my heart that millions of people across the country are doing the right thing and that people have such contempt for their fellow citizens,” she told reporters.

On Sunday, 141 new infections were recorded in the state, the second highest daily increase this year. It is feared cases will continue to rise after Saturday’s protests.

NSW authorities are expected to extend the current blockade, which is due to end on 30 July.

About 13 million Australians have re-entered the country in recent weeks after state governments reposed restrictions to combat the highly contagious Delta variant, leading to a surge in cases across the country.

Less than 14 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, far less than in most European countries and the United States.

Analysis: How the Delta burst the Covid bubble in Australia.

Explain. Australia’s slow vaccine rollout

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, under fire for Australia’s vaccination program, has promised to deliver more doses of the vaccine to New South Wales.

But he said they could not disrupt the statewide rollout, stressing that the state’s blockade would only end if the number of cases was reduced.

He also called those who took part in Saturday’s demonstration “selfish” and “self-destructive” and said protests “can only push the shutdown further”.

Meanwhile, Sydney police announced on Sunday that two men had been charged with assaulting a police horse during the protests.

A 33-year-old and a 36-year-old are due to appear in court today.

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