PROTEST LATEST:* One arrested at Parliament occupation, protest spreads to Auckland* Child at protest recalls riot police incident* Bridge reopens and police explain why thousands were allowed onto bridge* Council 'ready to act' with trespass notices, waiting for police green light - Goff
Protesters have slashed the tyres of police vehicles in response to officers removing a shower block in the dead of night.
In a statement on Tuesday police confirmed five vehicles had their tyres let down after a forklift was used to remove the illegal shower block brought in by protesters yesterday.
Inquiries are underway to find those responsible.Advertise with NZME.
Officers armed with riot gear were seen moving into the area around 12.30am.
The portable shower block was the latest addition to the camp, after makeshift toilets were erected on Sunday. They have been illegally plumbed into Wellington's wastewater system.
Police confirmed any infrastructure brought in by protesters will be seized, and not returned - however, a scuffle broke out on Tuesday morning as protesters attempted to bring several wooden pallets past police and into the occupation.
Police said the focus remains on containing the protest, and that they understand a number of people are trying to leave the occupation - but are blocked in by other protesters' vehicles.
"We will be overseeing the perimeter today to allow vehicles to leave in a one-way exit if they wish to do so."
Police estimate there are about 300 vehicles remaining inside the cordoned area this morning.
The showers appeared yesterday, a day after the makeshift toilets were erected at the site and illegally plumbed into Wellington's wastewater system.
The toilets remain in place on Molesworth St, outside the Court of Appeal.A police spokesperson said police were aware protestors had built their own toilet facilities.Advertise with NZME.
"Police focus has been on maintaining the integrity of the perimeter of the protest area. Although vehicles have been restricted from entering the site, pedestrian access is not prohibited."
Police had stopped vehicles, including tractors, and another structure from entering the protest cordon yesterday, the spokesperson said.
"While police have tried to discourage people from bringing in large pieces of equipment, people have been belligerent and determined enough to find entry points where they have been able to bring in items.
"We continue to be concerned by the deteriorating environment and reiterate that this is not a safe environment for people. Police will look to work with the Greater Wellington Regional Council to determine the next best course of action."
Ticketing vehicles 'a matter of physical ability'
Wellington Mayor Andy Foster says he can understand why Wellingtonians are frustrated to be getting parking tickets while protesters have parked for free in the city for three weeks.
Speaking to Nick Mills on Newstalk ZB's Wellington Mornings, Foster said around 700 or 800 parking tickets had been issued within the protest site so far.Advertise with NZME.
But this could only be done with the support of police, in order to protect the safety of parking wardens, he said.
"When the police say it's a safe time to go issue tickets, that's when we'll do it," he said.
"There is nothing that is legal about this protest at all, and we want it gone.
"It's not a matter of the law, it's a matter of physical ability."
Despite the hundreds of illegally parked cars around Parliament, Foster said parking management was still needed for two reasons: to promote circulation of parking spaces in the city and encourage people to park safely.
He said the priority was to end the occupation so Wellington city could be back under its usual parking management.Advertise with NZME.
"The first thing is to have the protest gone and then we can go back to having the whole city managed in the same way," he said.
Day of non-compliance
Meanwhile, one of the groups behind the protest has demanded the Government end all vaccine mandates by 10am today, as the unlawful occupation drags into day 22.
With protesters still refusing to leave the capital, the Freedom and Rights Coalition announced it will initiate mass non-compliance across the country from today after the deadline was not met.
"If the Government is not lifting mandates today, we the people will lift them!" reads a post on their Facebook page.
The group is threatening "united non-compliance" across the country, encouraging people to act as if Covid restrictions and mandates no longer exist.They are demanding that all work vaccination orders be revoked, urging that people who have lost their jobs return to work demanding their jobs back and issue their employers with the notice they will be part of a united lawsuit.
Secondly they declare all my vaccine pass mandates be revoked, urging people to "rip down any displays or signs" asking for proof of vaccination status and to delete the vaccine app from their phones.Advertise with NZME.
They also encourage people to rip down protective shields in businesses and ignore venue capacity limits.
An anti-mandate Facebook connected to businesses is encouraging people to rip down QR codes, to stop checking passes and make masks optional.
The Freedom and Rights Coalition is also calling for Kiwis to stop using masks, go wherever they want without restriction, and refuse to contact trace or isolate if they contract Covid.
Parliament still operating safely
Yesterday afternoon during a press conference, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Parliament had continued to operate safely, despite the three-week occupation outside.
Some staff had been abused for things like not wearing masks, she said. Parliament was moving to hybrid settings but this was due to the outbreak, not the protest.
Ardern said the protest was part of the outbreak, calling it "Covid camp" and advising that nobody go near it.Advertise with NZME.
The Government had made no decision on appealing last week's court decision around the lawfulness of police and defence force mandates.
The decision found the mandates breached aspects of the Bill of Rights Act, setting them aside.
On the ground in Wellington, a man was arrested yesterday for carrying a dangerous weapon near Parliament. He was handcuffed by police on Hill St for carrying a large metal pole he claimed was for his flag.
Protest spreads north
The protest has also spread north with a small group of protesters camping in the Auckland Domain, leading police to close vehicle access to it.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says he does not want to see a repeat of the Parliament occupation in Auckland.
"We've told the police that we have the trespass orders prepared, and our compliance team ready to act with them as soon as they make a decision to enforce those trespass orders," said Goff, adding that the ball was now in police's court.Advertise with NZME.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Health confirmed 17 people who were at the Wellington protest have tested positive for Covid-19, with several requiring hospital treatment.
However, due to reluctance by protesters to get a Covid-19 test, the true number of cases linked to the protest was likely to be much higher.
"We advise all those currently at the protest, or who have been at the protest, who are displaying cold and flu symptoms to get a test and isolate until they receive their result."
Wellington City Councillor Fleur Fitzsimmons says protesters at the Parliament occupation are showing symptoms of Covid-19.
I drove past the convoy today, the squalor and the tents were confronting but the worst part was seeing people with obvious COVID symptoms freely walking around unmasked.I have no doubt they are adding to the public health emergency and infecting Wellingtonians #GoHomeToBed— Fleur Fitzsimons (@FleurFitzsimons) February 27, 2022
"I drove past the convoy today, the squalor and the tents were confronting but the worst part was seeing people with obvious Covid symptoms freely walking around unmasked."
All staff who were based in the Parliamentary library building alongside Parliament House have been relocated to other parts of Parliament, including the Act Party MPs and staff, the Herald understands.Advertise with NZME.
The protesters have been camped on the library steps and some barriers have gone up inside the doors. It is understood police consider the library to be difficult to secure.
A large steel door has also now been bolted over the doorway that leads between the library and Parliament House. Its aim is to stop any protesters who might get into the library from making it into Parliament House itself, where the Debating Chamber is.