Police warn against joining Parliament protest

Source: 1News

The anti-mandate protest outside Parliament has entered its eighteenth day on Friday.

On Thursday some protesters used homemade shields made of plywood and rope in a standoff with police.

Around 170 police officers on Thursday afternoon worked to reposition and reinforce concrete bollard road blocks around the perimeter of the protest area after a vehicle on Tuesday drove through the site, nearly hitting officers.

On Thursday the number of vehicles around Parliament and its surrounding streets numbered around 300 in what police said late in the day was "significantly reduced from last week as people continue to pack up and leave every day".

The protest site outside Parliament, featuring the iconic statue of Premier Richard John Seddon.

"Movements to reduce the cordon will continue in the coming days as our focus remains on returning the city back to normal as quickly as possible."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday reiterated her message to protesters when speaking to media in Christchurch, that Covid-19 restrictions would ease when it was safe to do so.

“It will be based on public health advice - not protest activity,” she said.

“The most important point is, I don’t think you hear any public health expert say that now - when we’re in the middle of thousands of cases a day - is the time to let down our guard.”

Police have since issued a warning to anyone planning on travelling to Wellington to join the protest.

"The protest activity around Parliament grounds is unwelcome and having an unreasonably negative impact on residents, workers and students," assistant commissioner Richard Chambers says.

“Movements to shrink the protest footprint will continue in the coming days as our focus remains on returning the city back to normal as quickly as possible.”

Protesters' tents dot the grounds near Parliament.

Police say they will continue to maintain their reassurance patrols with assistance from Māori Wardens.

It follows concerns around the spread of Covid-19 at the protests after two protesters tested positive for the virus. The protest site has since been named as a location of interest.