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Crowds rally in New Zealand’s Auckland against coronavirus lockdown

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is facing a general election on October 17, scaled back the restrictions earlier this month, but the city is still under alert level 2.5, meaning social gatherings of more than 10 people are not allowed. — Reuters pic
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is facing a general election on October 17, scaled back the restrictions earlier this month, but the city is still under alert level 2.5, meaning social gatherings of more than 10 people are not allowed. — Reuters pic

MELBOURNE, Sept 12 — Large crowds of people rallied in Auckland today against the government’s social distancing restrictions imposed on the country’s largest city after an outbreak of the novel coronavirus last month.

Local television footage showed tightly packed crowds, with many people not wearing masks, with estimates of the attendance varying in reports between a thousand and a few thousand people.

“We are all here today because we believe we need to stand up for our rights,” the public Television New Zealand cited Jami-Lee Ross, the leader of the Advance New Zealand party, one of the organisers of the protest, as saying.

“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’.”

New Zealand, a nation of five million, had appeared to have succeeded in halting community transmission of Covid-19, but a fresh outbreak in Auckland in August prompted the government to place the city back in lockdown.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is facing a general election on October 17, scaled back the restrictions earlier this month, but the city is still under alert level 2.5, meaning social gatherings of more than 10 people are not allowed. Masks are mandatory on public transport across the country.

There were no immediate reports of arrests at the Sunday rally. — Reuters

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