COVID-19: Anti-vax mandate protesters deal brutal blow to business owners on first busy post-lockdown shopping day

  • 04/12/2021

Businesses in Auckland were dealt a pre-Christmas blow on Saturday as thousands of anti-Government protesters took over the busy Newmarket retail strip. 

Police say the march was peaceful but the local business association says a crucial shopping day died a death as a result.

Marching to the beat of an angry drum, anti-mandate protesters once again were voicing what they say are a removal of their freedoms. Freedoms most Aucklanders were trying to enjoy on Saturday on the first weekend out of lockdown.

"Personally I think they're a bunch of idiots. If they get the COVID, there's no freedom, is there," one person said. 

This is the sixth time the so-called freedom fighters have turned out to protest. 

Gathering in the morning at Auckland Domain where a peaceful kids' cricket match was disrupted by the noise of the crowd. Police scrambled to divert traffic as they moved onto main roads.

Newmarket's Broadway was brought to a complete standstill as the rally reached Westfield Mall where the garage doors had been pulled down in for safety 

The area was absolutely heaving with Christmas shoppers on the first Saturday out of lockdown but protesters caused absolute disruption. 

It was not the post-lockdown rush retailers were hoping for.

"It definitely is a shame I was expecting it to be a lot busier," said one.

The local businesses association says the chaos is a frustrating blow.

"We should've been doing around $3 million, $3.5m on Saturday, one of the biggest days of the year for us as we lead into Christmas, and they have just destroyed that for all our business owners," says Mark Knoff-Thomas, the Newmarket Business Association chief executive.

After Newshub was chased down side streets by a charged-up cyclist, the group made its next move: halting even more traffic as it slowly crawled to the nearby Government House.

Officers kept a close eye on the crowd, while the Eagle helicopter hovered above. 

Rallies were held in other parts of the country as well.

In Tauranga many took to Memorial Park with protesters holding up signs along 11th Avenue. Nelson may be in the grip of a new COVID outbreak but there was action there too. 

Another weekend fighting for freedom, but for the majority of Aucklander, this is the freest we've been since this outbreak began.