Thousands gather in New Zealand to protest vaccine mandates, restrictions

Thousands gather in New Zealand to protest vaccine mandates, restrictions
© Mark Mitchell/NZ Herald via Associated Press

Nearly 3,000 people in Wellington, New Zealand, rallied on Tuesday to protest the country's sweeping vaccine mandates and restrictions, according to The New York Times. 

The mandates apply to about 40 percent of workers and require proof of vaccination to access the majority of nonessential services and public events.

The protests, which reportedly forced a lockdown of New Zealand's Parliament and local street closures, was organized by a group called the Freedom and Rights Coalition.

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No arrests were made at the protest, but security was increased at a demonstration for the first time in decades in New Zealand, the Times noted. 

Other, smaller protests were reported throughout New Zealand as well. 

Fifty protesters blocked a road in Northland, New Zealand, for over an hour and a woman bit a police officer as authorities tried to get protesters away from the road, according to the Times. 

“What we saw today was not representative of the vast bulk of New Zealanders," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reportedly said, referring to the protests. 

According to data by the New Zealand Ministry of Health, 90 percent of those aged 12 and up in New Zealand who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine have received a shot and 82 percent are fully vaccinated.