Saturday , September 30 2023

New Zealand protesters rally against Covid curbs for a fifth day

Protesters against New Zealand’s vaccination mandates and tough Covid-19 restrictions gathered outside parliament in the capital Wellington for a fifth day on Saturday despite forecasts of drenching rain.

Police have put up new barriers on parliament grounds and said they would maintain a strong presence to assure peaceful demonstrations.

Inspired by truckers’ demonstrations in Canada, the protesters are increasingly occupying the surrounding streets with their trucks, cars, camper vans and motorcycles as more people come in from other parts of the country.

There were no arrests made on Friday, police said. On Thursday, more than 120 people were detained as police attempted to forcefully remove hundreds of protesters.

New Zealand logged a daily record of 446 community Covid-19 cases on Friday.

A country of five million people, New Zealand has reported just under 19,000 confirmed cases and 53 deaths since the pandemic began. About 94 percent of eligible people are vaccinated, with shots mandatory for some staff in frontline jobs.

The country’s borders are still closed, however, with tens of thousands of expatriate New Zealanders facing being cut off from families. Many tourism businesses are struggling to stay afloat.

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