MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)— Police are urging thousands of demonstrators planning to attend a protest rally in Australia’s second-largest city over George Floyd’s death to reconsider due to social distancing rules.
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius on Wednesday described the rally planned for Saturday as the largest mass gathering in Melbourne since pandemic restrictions were introduced in March.
Public gatherings are limited to 20 people in Victoria state, and people must keep 1.5 meters (5 feet) apart.
Australia has recorded 7,221 coronavirus cases with 26 in hospitals on Wednesday. There have been 102 deaths.
Cornelius did not say whether police plan to fine protesters, but told reporters that “police would prefer people obey the law.”
Police have not enforced social distancing regulations when thousands gathered peacefully in Sydney and Perth in solidarity with U.S. demonstrators and to protest against the over-representation of indigenous Australians in prisons.
Protesters attempted to get around social distancing rules by demonstrating over an unrelated issue in their cars in Melbourne in April. But police fined 26 of them 1,652 Australian dollars ($1,145) each and arrested their organizer for breaching a ban on non-essential travel. That ban has since been lifted.