Mass Protests Erupt in New Zealand Over COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates and Lockdowns

Mass protests erupted in New Zealand on Nov. 9, with thousands of people demonstrating against mandatory vaccination and COVID-19 restrictions.

Protesters marched through Wellington all the way to Parliament, holding signs saying “Freedom” and “Kiwis are not lab rats”, Radio New Zealand reported.

Large groups of unmasked protesters congregated in front of the Parliament performing traditional Maori dances that they called “haka for freedom”.

Although the protests were largely peaceful, one demonstrator reportedly bit a police officer and the police had to physically move some protesters and their vehicles off the road.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was present in the parliament hall during the protests, said: “The protesters’ views were not representative of the bulk of New Zealand.”

““We’re at over 89% of eligible New Zealanders having had their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and I think they know and appreciate that we’re on a road to able to open up more — to having a bit more of that normality back,” said Ardern.

New Zealand is one of the least affected nations by COVID-19, although the recent waves of Delta variant infections have prompted the prime minister to impose new lockdowns in major cities and push for mandatory vaccinations.

Almost 65% of the country’s total population is fully vaccinated.

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