New Zealand police on Thursday arrested more than 50 people and began forcefully removing hundreds of protesters camped outside its parliament building for the last three days to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates and tough coronavirus restrictions.
Inspired by truckers’ demonstrations in Canada, into a 13th day with protesters blocking two border crossings with the United States, several thousand protesters this week blocked streets near the parliament in capital Wellington with trucks, cars and motorcycles.
A country of five million people, New Zealand has reported just over 18,000 confirmed cases and 53 deaths since the pandemic began. About 94% of eligible people are vaccinated, with shots mandatory for some staff in frontline jobs.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday told the protesters to “move on”, saying the protests are not a reflection of what the majority in the country feels. As of 14.45 local time (0145 GMT), about a thousand protesters remained at the site, defying warnings and efforts by the police to clear them.
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