Thousands of anti-lockdown demonstrators have taken to the streets in Australia's two biggest cities with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian saying she was "utterly disgusted" by the scenes witnessed around the CBD.
A crowd stretching as far as the eye can see was spotted moving through the CBD towards Town Hall amid a massive police presence — some on the ground estimate there were as many as 15,000 people taking part in the march. Protestors were spotted scaling buildings as the demonstration grew, flooding the empty streets under lockdown.
Footage on social media shows the demonstrators walking down Broadway — one of the main arteries through Sydney's inner-west — as part of a "worldwide rally for freedom" in the CBD.
Entire families can be seen among the crowd and few people are wearing face masks at the unauthorised event — which has already sparked violent scenes.
Reports confirmed protests have also erupted in Brisbane
Some 7,500 protestors gathered in Brisbane City Botanic Gardens to protest the government's response to the growing coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, St James and Museum railway stations were forced to close due to the protests.
Footage posted earlier today shows police arresting protesters in nearby Chippendale.
Twitter user Amy Thomas wrote: "Stepped outside my house in Chippendale 5 mins ago to see some intense police brutality - assuming this is an anti-lockdown protest that police diverted from Broadway.
"It's not a cause I support but the license that officers were taking here is something that concerns me. I saw several arrests and open threats from officers to 'get people'."
Police appeared to handcuff one man from the scuffle.
NSW Police Minister David Elliott has labelled anti-lockdown protesters "selfish boofheads" and vowed to prosecute them all in a furious press conference hours after dramatic scenes erupted on Sydney's streets.
"What we saw today were 3500 very selfish boofheads," Elliott said. "People who thought the law did not apply to them."
He said a taskforce of detectives would work around the clock to identify the protesters and charge them for breaching public health orders.
"The NSW Police Force recognises and supports the rights of individuals and groups to exercise their rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, however, today's protest is in breach of the current Covid-19 Public Health Orders," it read.
"The priority for NSW Police is always the safety of the wider community."
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian unleashed on the protestors, saying she was "utterly disgusted" by the scenes witnessed around the CBD.
"I am utterly disgusted by the illegal protestors in the City today whose selfish actions have compromised the safety of all of us," read the statement.
"The protestors have shown utter contempt for their fellow citizens who are currently doing it tough.
"I want to thank the brave Police officers who put their own safety on the line to ensure the protest action ceased.
"This type of activity during lockdown will not be tolerated and the full force of the law will be brought against anyone who engages in this type of illegal activity."
Sydney Morning Herald reporter Georgina Mitchell tweeted photos of a "huge anti-lockdown protest in Sydney's CBD". Marchers were chanting "freedom", she said.
Melbourne rocked by protests
There are also protests happening in Melbourne. At least 1000 protesters have also gathered in the city's CBD.
The health minister there also blasted the mass gathering — saying he is "beyond disappointed" at protest action.
He blasted the movement as "ratbaggery efforts" and said those taking part "are on the side of the virus".
"Please. be on the side of humanity, not the side of virus," he said.
A car rally is also planned for locked-down Adelaide, with police warning they will make arrests over unlawful activity.
New South Wales recorded 163 new cases overnight - the highest daily infection tally so far.
Forty-five of those cases were infectious while in the community.
The figure is an alarming climb from yesterday's record of 136, which prompted Premier Gladys Berejiklian to declare a state of emergency and openly plead for more vaccines from the federal government.