Thousands march in New Zealand to protest against Covid vaccine mandates and lockdowns

People were seen holding banners reading ‘Plandemic’, ‘Is this the future you want’ and ‘This is not our New Zealand’

Arpan Rai
Thursday 16 December 2021 14:55
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<p>Security measures in Wellington were scaled up as unmasked anti-vaxxers protested against Covid measures </p>

Security measures in Wellington were scaled up as unmasked anti-vaxxers protested against Covid measures

Thousands of unmasked anti-vaxxers took to the streets of New Zealand’s capital city Wellington on Thursday to protest against Covid-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates.

The rally consisted of bikers and people holding banners that read: ‘Freedom’, ‘Plandemic’, ‘Is this the future you want?’ and ‘This is not our New Zealand!’ Several people carrying the national flag thronged the streets of the business district before reaching the parliament building’s facade.

Security measures had to be scaled up in Wellington as scores of police officials were needed to keep the protest march in a line and guard their route.

Entrances to the Beehive, the parliament building, were sealed off and dozens of police officials were deployed around the area.

Messages like “Freedom over fear”, “lockdowns destroy lives” and “Kiwis are not lab rats” were also used in the rally against the federal administration’s push for maximum vaccine coverage. Political messages like “Make America Great Again” were also seen in the rally.

The island nation, despite a sluggish start, has now fully vaccinated about 3.8 million – at least 90 per cent of its population – as the threat from coronavirus variant Omicron grips countries across the globe.

New Zealand’s tough lockdown and vaccination drives have helped keep coronavirus infections and related deaths low, but it has also drawn criticism from some calling for more freedom and an end to mandatory vaccine requirements.

In a bid to protect people from severe Covid-19 infections and hospitalisation, the government has mandated vaccinations for teachers, workers in the health and disability sectors, police and other public service sectors.

The protests come at a time when prime minister Jacinda Ardern eased several tight restrictions after facing opposition from locals who wanted to celebrate the holiday season over Christmas and the new year.

This is a departure from Ms Ardern’s strict policy of sealing New Zealand off and not allowing the social settings for the virus to spread. However, she has turned to the new “traffic light” method where the country will live with the virus and fight it with increased vaccination.

Until early next year, New Zealand will remain shut to the rest of the world apart from for some New Zealand citizens and emergency workers who enter via the managed isolation queue.

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