Authorities in the Australian city of Melbourne have warned of a “dangerous” rise in people resisting lockdown measures, sometimes violently.
Police said this trend included so-called “sovereign citizens” – who espouse an anti-government ideology – confronting officers.
In one case a woman repeatedly smashed a policewoman’s head into the ground.
Authorities have increased fines for repeated rule breaches as Melbourne endures a deadly virus second wave.
More than half of Australia’s 18,300 cases have been recorded in the past month in Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital. There have been 226 deaths nationally.
Melbourne has recently mandated wearing masks and tightened a stay-at-home order to reduce transmissions.
But authorities said many people were breaking rules, including some who claimed to be “above the law”.
Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said Victoria Police had seen an “emergence” of “concerning groups of people who classify themselves as ‘sovereign citizens'”.
The sovereign citizen movement – which has roots in the US – is typically used by those who don’t believe in their government’s legitimacy, often arguing their rights are being suppressed by public orders.
Mr Patton said the attack on the policewoman “highlights the type of challenges that we’re experiencing”, adding that people were “baiting” police at checkpoints and refusing to disclose basic information.
“On at least four occasions in the last week we’ve had to smash the windows of cars and pull people out to provide details,” he said.