Tightly packed crowds of people descend on Auckland CBD for anti-lockdown protest

Source: 1News

Crowds of people could be seen flouting lockdown rules as they descended on the Auckland CBD this afternoon to protest the Covid-19 lockdown. 

Thousands of people - many of them not wearing face coverings - could be seen holding Advance New Zealand party banners as they banded together at Aotea Square ahead of the march.

"We're all here today because we believe in New Zealand. We're all here today because we believe we need to stand up for our rights," Advance New Zealand leader Jami-Lee Ross told the crowd.

"We're all here today because we believe it's time to stand up and say, 'We need to get our rights and freedoms back, and in this country of New Zealand we're at a crossroads where we get to determine which path we go.'

"The path of more lockdowns, the path of losing our freedoms more, or the path of greater rights and freedoms and that's what we stand for."

Under the current Level 2.5 restrictions, gatherings in Auckland are limited to 10 people. Penalties for breaking the rules include a maximum prison sentence of six months and/or a fine of up to $4000.

New Zealand's lockdown has been globally praised for helping stamp out Covid-19 earlier this year.

Also on the march today was a person who was jailed for escaping a managed isolation facility. By court order, that person can't be identified.

Ross says today's lockdown protest was a combined event with Liberty March and the National Rally for Freedom.

Auckland went down from Level 3 to Level 2.5 last Monday. The restrictions are expected to remain in place until at least Wednesday. 

Speaking to 1 NEWS today, MP and Labour candidate Grant Robertson said while people have a right to protest, the "vast majority of New Zealanders understand that we've done really well by sticking together, sticking to the rules, and that's what they'll keep doing."

Police officers were at protest to monitor the situation and "respond accordingly," Auckland City Police Inspector Grant Tetzlaff told 1 NEWS in a statement earlier in the day.

"Police recognise people’s lawful right to protest. However, we also recognise the need for people to follow the current Level 2 restrictions to do their part to help prevent the spread of Covid-19."

Tetslaff said police would "continue to take an educative approach with attendees and organisers when necessary."

No arrests were made at the rally.