MAFS star Hayley Vernon has been called out for attending a Victorian anti-lockdown protest on Saturday, which is calling for an end to the state’s strict stage-four and stage-three restrictions.
The former bride from the hit reality series Married at First Sight, Hayley has long been outspoken about her opposition to lockdown measures and came under fire for questioning the legitimacy of the virus on social media last month.
Today she shared videos to Instagram showing her and her brother Craig walking towards the protest and then joining in the march.
At first implying adherence to lockdown measures, Hayley told viewers her and her brother, both wearing cloth bandanas as face coverings, were simply ‘taking her one hour walk’ within the ‘5km radius’ of her home.
She quickly, however, admitted she had really shown up to ‘stand beside’ fellow protestors and to support her brother who described himself as a ‘truth-teller’.
“I am just walking down St Kilda road which is in my 5km radius we’re just getting our one-hour exercise today,” she said in the footage. “We thought we’d just walk past the shrine see what’s going on so should be interesting.”
Protestors gathered at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance on Saturday, where violent scuffles with police broke out and more than 20 people were arrested at the scene, according to reports from an AAP photographer.
Up to 300 people are believed to have gathered at the shrine to protest Victoria’s coronavirus rules.
The star vaguely hinted at ‘lending our support if people need it’ before later sharing footage of a fellow protestor denouncing the lockdown measures at the shrine, which she can be heard vocally agreeing with.
In her stories, she also included a video of the pair joining a group marching down the road chanting ‘freedom’.
‘Shame on you’: Fans slam Hayley for attending protest
Response to the TV personality’s presence at the protest was swift and harsh, with many former fans denouncing the move in comments on the footage she shared online.
“Please stop,” one woman wrote. “I’m embarrassed for you.”
“Did you seriously attend this?” another responded in disbelief. “Shame on you.”
One person challenged Hayley’s scepticism of the virus by sharing his experience of the virus’ impacts as an example to her.
“Awesome,” the man wrote. “So my girlfriend's grandfather caught an imaginary virus, that nearly killed him... I'll let him know that he didn't actually go through all of that, that it's a scam, his body was lying to him.”
“So if there is no virus why have so many people died?” another queried. “Your family is not the only one struggling there are [thousands] of families struggling!?”
“Now Dan has a good excuse to keep up in lockdown longer thanks to these protesters,” another furious onlooker wrote. “Why couldn’t you just stay home?”
Police have been on standby across the state for a number of protest rallies after plans were aired to challenge the state's strict lockdown rules which include an 8pm to 5am curfew, as well as limited travel and reasons for leaving home.
Ahead of the planned protest, police warned against people congregating and breaching health directives.
Hayley is not the only MAFS star in hot water over their distaste for coronavirus measures.
Co-star Stacey Hampton was last month arrested and charged for breaking lockdown rules in Melbourne, and Amanda Micallef reportedly received death threats for being similarly outspoken against the virus measures online.