Around 10PM on Thursday the 4th of November, it was announced that the Northern Territory had received its first ever community transmission case of COVID. The individual who tested positive works in Katherine and had recently been through Darwin. A 72-hour lockdown was declared in Katherine while Darwin entered a 72-hour lockout. A lockout is essentially business as usual for the fully vaccinated as long as they wear a mask. Those not fully vaccinated were told to consider it a full lockdown. This meant only leaving the house for 1 hour of exercise per day or to carry out essential activities such as grocery shopping. Those not fully vaccinated were also told to not go into work.
On the morning of the 5th of November, it quickly became apparent that the economy and healthcare system couldn’t function without the unvaccinated, so by lunchtime on the 5th of November all unvaccinated essential workers were called into work – this also included a lot of work that would not usually be deemed essential such as waitressing.
On this day there were confirmed reports of some Woolworths and petrol stations refusing entry to the unvaccinated, even though they are considered an essential service. This day proved that when the vaccine mandate comes into effect on the 13th of November, the Northern Territories economy will seriously struggle.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner mentioned in his press conference that the lockdown may be extended if further cases arose. One of the hotspots was one of the biggest nightclubs in Darwin, so more cases were likely to occur, and as of the 6th of November, 2 more people had tested positive for the virus.
A freedom rally was planned to take place in the city at 3PM on the 6th of November, and while it originally remained uncertain if it was going ahead because of the lockdown, the people decided to modify the rally plan and go ahead with it. The new plan was to drive a car convoy along a pre-designated route towards the outskirts of the city and then march in on foot.
Police set up roadblocks around town as to only let the vaccinated in, and after the car convoy had gone as far as they could due to the police blockade, the people began marching on foot.
Tribal sovereigns from Larrakia nation led the march as they came face to face with a police blockade. The crowd attempted to break through the police line, which resulted in the police using pepper spray and arresting a handful of individuals. The majority of the crowd surpassed the blockade and continued to march towards the city. The people were warned that the Territory Response group had been called in as backup and they decided to regroup at the botanical gardens.
Eventually, it was decided that in the best interests of public safety, to not attempt to push through another and more prepared police blockade, but to instead peacefully disperse and regroup stronger than ever at the rally the following week.