Thousands of protesters have brought Wellington’s CBD to a standstill as they march to Parliament in a challenge to Covid restrictions.
The Freedoms & Rights Coalition are marching to Parliament this morning to present their demands, which include an end to Covid restrictions and vaccine mandates.
Wellington City Council has advised traffic is expected to be disrupted in the city centre and people should expect delays after 10.30am.
Parliament’s Speaker Trevor Mallard said security had never been as tight as it was today.
He said the Parliament grounds are crawling with police and security and they’ve blocked off all entrances apart from one.
National Party leader Judith Collins also said she had never seen so much security, but hoped the protests would be peaceful.
Parliament’s main entrances are all locked down and some protestors have set up ahead of the main march arriving.
Acontingent of police are also on the grounds, but are so far keeping a low profile.
People who work there have also been warned to stay alert and report any suspicious behaviour.
Protesters beginning to gather at Parliament include a group of about 30 who travelled down from Whakatāne.
They say they include teachers and even a principal, all opposed to the vaccine mandate which requires a first dose by November 15.
One of the protesters, a special needs teacher of over 20 years’ experience, says she is prepared to leave her job, as are many others.
She says about 2000 people have travelled from Whakatāne and the wider region for today’s protest.
The woman, who refused to give her name, said she was concerned about Covid-19 but didn’t trust the vaccine nor the Government.
The protest organisers say they want New Zealand to “learn to live with the virus”. They are calling for an end to the restrictions which have so far prevented the mass illness and death seen in other countries.
They want Auckland’s borders to be opened, the whole country to move to alert level 1 and an end to “no jab, no job” vaccine mandates.
Metlink has advised it will continue to operate despite the disruption to routes caused by protest action.
A diversion remains in place between Courtney Place and Lambton Quay between 10am and 3pm, with no stops on Metlink services between Courtney Place and Lambton Interchange.
Metlink general manager Scott Gallagher said they were putting the diversion in place to protect the safety of passengers and drivers.
“However, this is an evolving situation which will be closely monitored. We will update customers with any further changes, should they be necessary, as soon as we are able.”
Bus services affected are 1, 2, 3, 7, 14, 22, 24, 25, 52, 81, 83.
Police are also preparing for possible blockades at Auckland’s borders and say there will be a “heightened presence” at other Auckland locations such as Government House and MPs’ electorate offices.
Protesters block Auckland's northern border
Earlier today lockdown protesters blocked State Highway 1 at Auckland’s northern border, causing delays for motorists.
A heavy police presence was standing guard at the Te Hana border, just north of Wellsford, today.
Officers could be seen standing in front of a large truck, blocking protesters.
The Freedoms and Rights Coalition is organising a march through Wellington to Parliament today to present a range of demands to lift lockdown restrictions.
Police were preparing for blockades at Auckland’s borders and say there will be a “heightened presence” at other Auckland locations such as Government House and MPs’ electorate offices.
In a statement on Tuesday morning, the Freedoms and Rights Coalition said the group will present its “realistic demands” on the steps of Parliament.
The group is calling for an end to lockdowns and public health measures, saying it’s “time to learn to live with Covid-19”, “shut down testing stations”, and treat the deadly virus like “the flu”.
“This government will have until this Friday 12th November 2021 at 2pm to take affirmative steps. If ‘No-One’ from within our House of Representatives is prepared to make moves for us, it will be time for ‘we the people’ to take matters into our hands as we undertake THE GREAT GRIDLOCK across many parts of this nation, unlike anything ever seen before,” the group said.
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