Increasingly violent protests in New Zealand against vaccination regulations are expected to spill over into a fourth week as police warn protesters they will “actively engage” with any who crossed Auckland’s jetty illegally this week.
The planned march across the bridge will severely disrupt traffic in the heart of one of the country’s largest cities as protesters ignore calls to stop agitating against Covid- 19 of the government.
New Zealand is on ‘red alert’ as Omicron has spread in the community as cases doubled on Friday night to more than 12,000 people, including five deaths.
Jacinda Ardern, prime minister, warned that the country – one of the last easing restrictions on travel and immigration has closed its borders to try to contain Covid-19 – there are “a rough couple of weeks ahead of us”.
New Zealand has struggled with the Omicron outbreak while being unable to stop a growing protest movement inspired by Canada truck and ‘Canberra convoy’ siege in Australia over the past month.
An occupation of tents on the lawn outside parliament in Wellington has been in place for three weeks despite Ardern’s call for protesters to “go home”. Massive protests are now spreading to other cities as the movement has grown, while in recent days many have come to join the occupation of Wellington.
Initial attempts to disperse the Wellington crowd, including playing Barry Manilow songs and turning on the lawn sprinklers, failed. Police said they would not interfere with the mostly peaceful protest despite the disruption caused to local businesses as protesters blocked some of Wellington’s busiest streets with their cars. surname.
However, tensions have flared up over the past week. On Thursday, Ardern was escorted from a Christchurch school by police after being surrounded by anti-vaccination protesters.
Michael Wood, the transport minister, said in parliament that while many protesters could be described as confused, scared or manipulated, the broader movement was underpinned by a “river of rubbish ” with fascist elements. “There is a river of violence and intimidation,” he said.
Police have moved to limit the impact of protests in recent days citing illegal behavior including harassment of local businesses, passersby and school children by the occupation of 1,000 people.
Concrete planks have been placed to prevent cars from entering the streets around the parliament, and police have increased their presence around the area.
The actions of the authorities have provoked strong reactions from some elements of the protest movement. Police say human excrement was thrown at officers last week and “a stinging agent” was sprayed on them. A car was also driven at the police officers.
Reports of a protester carrying a gun were investigated but the man was spotted carrying one instead. taihaa traditional weapon of the Maori people.
Police say they have made 132 arrests.