face mask, COVID-19

Exemption for Mardi Gras ‘take Over Oxford Street’ march welcome: same must be extended to all protest

Amnesty International Australia welcomes the decision by the NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, to grant an exemption to allow a protest to go ahead along Sydney’s iconic Oxford Street on the same day as Mardi Gras.

Peaceful protest is a fundamental human right protected by international law and protest organisers have committed to enforcing social distancing, mask wearing, the use of hand sanitiser and COVID Safe Marshalls.

The NSW government has failed to lift restrictions on the 500 people per protest threshold.

This is in stark contrast to the move by the Government last week to allow up to 3000 people to attend community sport. Last weekend the State’s largest triathlon at Huskisson reported 5,000 people in attendance.

Amnesty International campaigner, Joel MacKay, said: “Protesters have shown they are willing to comply with COVID-safe protocols including social distancing, and no community spread of COVID-19 has been recorded at a protest in NSW since the beginning of the pandemic,

“We welcome the Minister’s exemption which shows that we can balance our right to health, with the right to protest. The NSW government needs to change the COVID guidelines so that community groups don’t have to take the government to court just to be able to fulfil their right to peacefully protest

“Governments must ensure future COVID restrictions are proportionate to the threat posed by the pandemic at the time, and necessary to combat the pandemic.”