Anti-vax protesters take to Sydney streets as state records nearly 50,000 new cases, 20 deaths

Parents and children who oppose the COVID-19 vaccination for kids have taken to Sydney streets alongside Novak Djokovic supporters.

The busy crowd gathered in Sydney’s Prince Alfred Park as the state recorded 48,768 new COVID cases and 20 deaths. Hospitalisations for the virus reached 2576 with 193 in ICU.

Alongside opposing the vaccine, protesters were also marching against by the Federal Government’s decision to cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa for the second time late Friday night.

The protest started at Victoria Park in Sydney’s CBD and was endorsed by former Liberal MP Craig Kelly, who now leads the United Australia Party.

Mr Kelly demanded an “end to mandates and medical segregation”.

As “Voices 4 The Kids” maskless protesters marched through the city, some held up signs reading “hands off our kids”, referencing the national eligibility for kids aged between five to 11 to get the COVID jab coming into place.

It makes Australia one of the few countries to allow kids so young to receive the vaccination.

Alongside anti-vax sentiments were pro-Djokovic protesters, who held up “Free Novak” signs in resentment towards Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision to cancel the tennis world No.1’s visa on Friday night.

Mr Hawke’s justified cancelling Djokovic’s visa, saying his “presence in Australia may cause an increase in anti-vaccination sentiment, in effect because he may be perceived by some as a talisman of a community of anti-vaccine sentiment, leading to various negative consequences”.

There was a heavy police presence across the city, including on George Street in Martin Place as protesters gathered outside. However, the protest was peaceful.

Kids aged between five and 11 became eligible for the jab on January 10, 2022. They will receive one third of the dosage adults receive in their vaccinations.

The two doses are scheduled eight weeks apart but can be shortened to three weeks in the event of an outbreak.

Meanwhile, Djokovic will face his second visa cancellation hearing on Sunday 9.30am Melbourne time in Australia’s Federal Court, leaving little time for his legal team to prepare their arguments.

On Friday, NSW reported 29 fatalities from the virus – a record high for the state since the pandemic began – as well as 63,018 new cases. However, it is expected cases to continue to climb as the highly-infectious Omicron variant spreads throughout the community.