Five people were arrested Tuesday after an "unauthorized" Australia Day protest in Sydney that breached health restrictions put in place to avoid the spread of Covid-19, New South Wales police said in a statement.
Australia's national day, observed January 26, regularly sees large protests around the country over concerns that the date inappropriately celebrates the mass dispossession of the country's Indigenous population.
Police said they worked with organizers to separate the crowd Tuesday into groups of fewer than 500 people in an effort to minimize health risks.
"No issues arose at the protest and the crowd began to disperse just after 11am, before a large group attempted to commence a march in Hyde Park about 11.45am," the NSW police statement said.
"Police spoke with the organiser and the crowd, giving them a formal warning regarding a breach of public health regulations before the crowd eventually dispersed."
Four of those arrested were involved in a scuffle in which a police officer was allegedly assaulted, according to police. A 27-year-old woman and a 28-year-old man would be charged with failure to follow Covid-19 directions from police, among other charges, police said. Two other men were each issued with a 1,000 Australian dollar ($770) penalty and released.
One man who was not part of the gathering was charged with breach of the peace, the police statement added.
In Melbourne, two men were also detained during Australia Day protests for breaching the peace but were released without charge a short time later. "Police were pleased with the behaviour of those that attended," Melbourne police told CNN.