New Zealanders Protest Vaccine Manadates


New Zealand's Flag. | Image by Ronnie Macdonald on Flickr

On February 8, hundreds of people protesting vaccine mandates and pandemic restrictions blocked streets outside New Zealand’s parliament with trucks and campervans, inspired by similar demonstrations in Canada, Yahoo News reports.

The mostly unmasked protesters held “freedom” placards and announced that they would camp outside parliament until the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. The protests, which could last several days, are sparked by a truckers’ blockade in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, against strict government measures to combat the pandemic.

The “convoy for freedom” protesters arrived from all over New Zealand. They gathered outside the Beehive, the capital’s parliament building, ahead of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s first speech of the year.

According to The Guardian, Ardern stated that the protesters did not represent most people.

“I think it would be wrong to in any way characterize what we’ve seen outside as a representation of the majority,” she said in a press conference. “The majority of New Zealanders have done everything they can to keep one another safe.”

Ardern said the pandemic would not end with Omicron in her parliamentary speech earlier in the day and that the country needed to prepare for more virus variants this year.

On February 8, the New Zealand Ministry of Health announced that the country had seen 265 new cases in the previous 24 hours and 2,880 active cases of COVID-19 during the last 21 days. The Ministry also stated that everyone in New Zealand, aged five and up, is eligible for a free COVID-19 vaccination regardless of visa or citizenship status.

18,655 booster doses were given out on February 7, bringing the total to 1,605,815. In addition, 1,502 pediatric doses were administered yesterday, bringing the total number of doses to 200,562.

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