FRIDAY 5 JUNE 2020
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has asked people not to break coronavirus social-distancing rules by attending Black Lives Matter protests this weekend, telling them to “find a better way” of expressing themselves.
He said anyone who did attend would put their own health, and the health of others, at risk.
“I say to them: don’t go,” Mr Morrison said.
“Our message is very clear that the health risks of gathering in such large numbers and into close proximity are real.
“Let’s find a better way and another way to express these sentiments.”
The Prime Minister urged anyone thinking of attending to remember the “sacrifices” others had made during the coronavirus restrictions, including the cancellation of group commemorations for Anzac Day and limited gatherings at funerals.
The protests are in response to the alleged murder of African American George Floyd by a police officer in the US.
Mr Morrison’s plea for people to remain at home came hours before NSW police announced they would seek Supreme Court action deeming protests planned for tomorrow illegal.
“This is because the protesters could not guarantee adherence to the health orders,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
“They could not guarantee safe social distancing and simply the number of protesters far exceeds the health orders and we can’t afford to have exceptions for anybody.”
Mr Morrison said it was “important” people had the right to protest, but that the potential consequences outweighed the risk of spreading the virus.
South Australia’s Police Commissioner has approved an exemption from the state’s coronavirus restrictions for protesters seeking to demonstrate in the wake of the death of George Floyd in the United States.
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens issued an exemption which allows a gathering of more than 80 people in a public place for the “one-off, unique situation”.
However, he said those who attend the rally at Victoria Square in Adelaide’s CBD will still need to practise social distancing — and anyone sick should stay away — to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“This is a unique and extraordinary event. There is a sentiment that suggests people should have a right to protest on significant matters. We acknowledge that,” Commissioner Stevens said.
“We do not want to see confrontation with people who are deliberately breaching a direction under the Emergency Management Act.
“The decision has been taken to eliminate that factor by providing the exemption so this can occur as a peaceful protest, and we are very keen to work with the organisers.”
South Australia currently has no active cases of COVID-19, but the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has stressed that precautions should still be taken at the protest.
In Queensland, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has urged people wanting to show their support for Black Lives Matter, to do so on social media rather than march through the city on Saturday.
Strict limits on gatherings remain in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus, with a public health directive stating outdoor events must not involve more than 20 people.
However, for the thousands expected to hit the streets, the premier says they should space themselves out.
“If you do go, we are asking people to be very mindful of social distancing and stay in family groups,” Ms Palaszczuk said on Friday.
The Victorian Chief Health Officer also reiterated his warning that mass gatherings posed significant health risks, urging people to rethink attending protests.
“I would not want people to be exposed and bring it back to their families, to their communities,” Professor Brett Sutton said.
He warned Melbourne’s north and west are emerging as “hotspots” for coronavirus, as police say fines will be issued to the organisers of a Black Lives Matter protest this weekend due to the breach of physical-distancing directives involved.
The first memorial service for George Floyd has been held in Minneapolis with family, civil rights activists and celebrities in attendance.
Amid celebrations of his life, activists called for change in America’s criminal justice system to avoid “the next George Floyd”.
Mr Floyd’s brother and other family members told personal stories about dancing, playing football, cooking and enjoying life together. They said he was known by the endearing nickname “Big George”.
“George, he was like a general,” brother Philonise Floyd said.
“Every day he would walk outside there would be a line of people wanting to greet him. … He was powerful, man. He had a way with words. … Everybody loved George.”
Services will be held over the next six days across three separate communities.
The Canterbury Bulldogs have been banned from training after club great Terry Lamb crashed the team’s training yesterday breaking strict biosecurity guidelines.
Lamb, who is not one of 50 players and staff cleared to attend training, was filmed shaking hands with players and has since undergone a COVID-19 test.
The Bulldogs cannot train until the results of the test are known.
The NRL’s integrity unit will also look into the incident after Lamb,
“On the advice of biosecurity experts, Terry Lamb will be tested for COVID-19. The Bulldogs will not train until the test results return tomorrow,” an NRL spokesperson said.
The Bulldogs later apologised for the incident.
Media were invited to film a portion of the training session at Belmore Oval where Lamb was captured breaking the strict guidelines imposed on all NRL clubs since March 4.
Lamb is an ambassador for the club but is not cleared to attend training and games.
Everyone on the list is required to self-isolate at home under strict guidelines as approved by state governments to allow the NRL to resume their competition on May 28.
Under the guidelines there is to be no contact with anyone outside of the “bubble” aside from people in their homes, which have been pre-approved by the NRL.
No one from outside the bubble, including media and other club staff, are allowed inside “clean” zones at games and training sessions.
It is the first serious breach of the guidelines since training recommenced a month ago.
The Bulldogs, who are yet to post a win this season, are due to face St George Illawarra on Monday.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) have released details of a major investigation into an alleged child sex abuse network that operated across three states, reports the ABC.
Police said 40 charges had been laid and nine men arrested in relation to child abuse that was filmed, photographed and shared online.
The operation began in February after a tip-off from US authorities.
At least 14 children have been removed from harmful situations.
Two men aged in their 20s were arrested yesterday on the New South Wales Mid North Coast and have each been charged with offences relating to the harm and exploitation of children.
The AFP will allege the pair were part of an online network that abused Australian children and recorded the crimes to share with others.
Police said the arrests were linked to alleged criminal activity across New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.
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