Coronavirus: Police aware of second anti-lockdown protest, 'planning accordingly'

Police are planning for a second anti-lockdown protest from the same group behind Saturday's mass gathering at the Auckland Domain.

The Freedoms and Rights Coalition released a video on Thursday morning confirming another protest would go ahead on October 16. A second event was mentioned by Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki during his speech at the weekend's rally, but it was unclear if it would still go ahead after it emerged this week he and another organiser are facing charges. 

In a statement to Newshub, police reiterated that it was "made clear to organisers of a previous event, that protest action in breach of the COVID restrictions, risked attracting enforcement action". 

"Police is aware of a planned gathering next week, and is planning accordingly."

Saturday's protest occurred while Auckland was at alert level 3 and mass gatherings remained prohibited with residents asked to stay at home in most cases.

Auckland remains at alert level 3 but now has a new three-step approach to restrictions. Gatherings between two bubbles and no more than 10 people are allowed outdoors with distancing and mask requirements in place.

It's not yet known what step the region will be in next weekend, but it's unlikely to permit gatherings of 1000 people like what Auckland Domain saw on Saturday. Many attendees weren't distancing themselves or wearing masks.

Tamaki and another organiser have been summonsed to court next week to face charges for allegedly breaching the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020.

In a statement, Tamaki said he would defend himself

"I am prepared to stand up and be heard when I see injustice and suffering. I am certainly not afraid to do so on any occasion, let alone at this vital time. I will defend my involvement and my right to do so. My community, my people, are too important for me to ignore the pain being caused by the Government's current policies."

He also said he was surprised by the charges as he had previously met with Police Commissioner Andrew Coster to speak about the event. 

Following the meeting, Coster wrote to Tamaki summarising their discussion. In the letter, provided to Newshub, Coster says Tamaki agreed to "mandate mask-wearing". Despite that, the Freedom and Rights Coalition's website said mask-wearing was a "personal choice".