Thousands protest New Zealand COVID rules

A large contingent of motorcyclists joined thousands of protesters in New Zealand's capital on Tuesday (November 9).

The group were rallying against the country's latest COVID-19 rules, demanding the government roll back compulsory vaccination and lift restrictions.

Some protesters flew flags showing support for former U.S. President Donald Trump.

The peaceful demonstration saw many holding signs with messages like "Freedom" and "Kiwis are not lab rats."

Others accused the media of being "fake," or of lying.

The mostly unmasked protesters marched through central Wellington and congregated outside a parliament building, nicknamed the Beehive.

Police and security personnel numbers had been beefed up, and all but two entrances of the building were closed off.

Speaking to reporters inside parliament, Jacinda Ardern said: "What we saw today was not representative of the vast bulk of New Zealanders."

New Zealand has struggled to fight off a highly infectious outbreak of the Delta variant this year, forcing the Prime Minister to move from a strategy of elimination through lockdowns to living with the virus with higher vaccination rates.

She said last month that teachers and workers in the health and disability sectors would be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The move has invited criticism from people calling for more freedoms and an end to mandatory vaccines.

New Zealand has some of the lowest COVID-19 case and death numbers in the world.

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