Police in the Australian state of Victoria arrested 404 people who participated in a protest against lockdowns in Melbourne on Tuesday -- more than a week after the state began lifting stringent anti-epidemic measures that had been in place for months.
Protesters occupied the state capital's central business district and called the virus, which has killed 907 Australians and more than 1.2 million people worldwide, a hoax.
In footage tweeted by CNN affiliate 9 News Melbourne, some shouted: "Shame on you, fake news!" at journalists and called for state Premier Daniel Andrews to step down.
The video also showed police deploying what appeared to be pepper spray at the crowd.
"Victoria Police was disappointed to arrest a large number protestors who again showed disregard for the safety of the broader community and the directions of the Chief Health Officer," police said in a statement.
Melbourne was the epicenter of Australia's coronavirus epidemic this summer, with Andrews declaring a "state of disaster" at one stage to stem an outbreak that saw as many as 725 people in Victoria test positive for the virus in a single day.
As cases began skyrocketing, Andrews enacted the type of strict anti-epidemic measures that critics worry could damage the economy and trample on civil liberties.
But from a public health standpoint, Andrews' decision appeared to have worked. While cases in Europe and the United States are surging, on Sunday Australia didn't register a single new Covid-19 infection for the first time since June.
Tuesday saw Victoria report no new cases for the fourth day in a row.
A new normal: Andrews' government began relaxing anti-epidemic measures last week. Melbourne residents can now leave their homes, and most businesses in the state can reopen.
Some restrictions remain in place, however, including a 25-kilometer (15-mile) limit on travel and an internal border between Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne. Public gatherings are limited to 10 people.