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No evidence of COVID transmissions at protests, suggest NSW health authorities

Police have used the threat of COVID transmissions as reason to stifle protests.

An education protest at the University of Sydney last year. Photo courtesy: Aman Kapoor.

Health authorities have confirmed that not a single recorded case of COVID in NSW has been transmitted in an outdoor setting, which includes outdoor protests.

This is in line with research saying that the risk of transmissions are massively reduced in outdoor environments

Activists have taken interest in the revelation, given that NSW Police have used the threat of COVID transmissions as reason to stifle protests, despite COVID precautions being taken and other outdoor gatherings being permitted.

Actions disrupted by police include education and climate rallies, where students were shoved to the ground, as well as Black Lives Matter protests — one of which saw protesters being ‘kettled’ and pepper sprayed. 

Last month, it was also confirmed that no transmissions in Victoria occurred outdoors, despite links being made in the media between a COVID outbreak and Black Lives Matter protest in Melbourne.

Madeline Clark, Education Officer of the University of Sydney SRC said that the research “confirms what protesters were arguing last year — that the government’s crackdown on protests was politically motivated.”

“They saw COVID as an opportunity to stifle our freedom of speech even when other events were permitted.”

Convenors of the University of Sydney Environment Collective noted that while the information “can do nothing to mend or negate the trauma caused by police brutality against protestors,” it gives them “hope for the future.”

“Just as we will not stop fighting for a future that is renewably powered, has a tertiary education system that is publicly funded and accessible and that ends injustices against Indigenous peoples, we will not stop protesting in person to achieve such ends.” 

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