The Ministry of Health has announced another record day of COVID cases with 23,183 infections with 503 people in hospital on Thursday.
It comes after Wellingtonians woke to their first morning without the anti-mandate protest that had blocked the streets around Parliament for 23 days.
Police are now back in control of Parliament grounds and the streets surrounding it after a day of violence on Wednesday that saw 89 people arrested, up to 50 vehicles towed and seven officers requiring hospital treatment.
What you need to know:
- There were 23,183 new COVID-19 cases recorded on Thursday.
- Location of Thursday's new community cases: Northland (520), Auckland (13,237), Waikato (1,870), Bay of Plenty (1,332), Lakes (537), Hawke’s Bay (315), MidCentral (381), Whanganui (79), Taranaki (289), Tairāwhiti (134), Wairarapa (94), Capital and Coast (1,487), Hutt Valley (642), Nelson Marlborough (271), Canterbury (1,294), South Canterbury (53), Southern (615), West Coast (16); Unknown (17).
- COVID cases in hospital on Thursday's total number 503: Northland: 8; North Shore: 91; Middlemore: 159; Auckland: 147 ; Waikato: 39; BOP: 11; Rotorua: 3; Tairawhiti: 3; Hawke’s Bay: 1; Taranaki: 3; MidCentral: 8; Hutt Valley: 3; Capital and Coast: 12; Nelson Marlborough: 5; Canterbury: 8; Southern: 2.
- The Government on Monday agreed to lift all self-isolation requirements for vaccinated travellers entering New Zealand from 11:59pm on Wednesday.
- The 23-day occupation of Parliament's grounds was been brought to an end on Wednesday with a major police operation. Eighty-nine people were arrested on Wednesday and 11 on Thursday.
- Police have established a crime scene around Parliament grounds and the surrounding area.
- Some protesters have been in possession of various weapons, including fire extinguishers, a cord set up as a tripwire, paint-filled projectiles, homemade plywood shields and pitchforks, police said on Wednesday.
These live updates have finished.
7:15pm - After two years of keeping COVID-19 and Kiwis out, MIQ is basically over from Wednesday night.
But some people will stay locked in isolation until the weekend and it's not for public health reasons.
Rapid antigen tests touched down in New Zealand in waves last week. One of which was scored by Captain Kim McKay who has spent more than 50 days in MIQ in the past year.
But despite landing a RAT, McKay will be stuck in MIQ until Saturday because he brought rapid antigen tests in from China.
Whereas Kiwis coming from Australia don't even have to self-isolate from tonight.
6:35pm - Here's a statement from Victoria University of Wellington on protest activity:
Police have now cleared protestors and their structures from Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington's Pipitea campus. However, the campus remains closed at this time while clean-up operations are underway and until it is safe to reopen. The University will continue to work with Police, Wellington City Council, and Heritage New Zealand during this time.
University Security, Health and Safety, and Property Services teams have been able to access the site to begin assessing the damage and the clean-up required. Once their work is completed the University will undertake a full risk assessment to ensure it is safe for staff and students to return to campus. The campus will be closed during the assessment, which is anticipated to take at least a week.
"While it is disheartening to see the mess and damage caused by protesters, we are very appreciative of the efforts of Police, Fire and Emergency, and our own security staff in safeguarding our Pipitea campus. The many expressions of goodwill from around Wellington and our University community have also been very encouraging--this has been a frustrating and stressful time for our staff and students," says Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford.
Access to the campus will need to be controlled for some time.
"While we are looking forward to resuming our teaching and learning activities at Pipitea campus, we have a lot of work to do before we can make that decision," says Professor Guilford.
6:15pm - Here's the latest protest update from police:
Police have begun the investigation phase following yesterday's operation to reopen the area of Wellington affected by protest activity.
Police have today established a crime scene around Parliament grounds and the surrounding area.
The investigation will focus on identifying criminal offending related to the protest and occupation activity.
Forensic investigations are underway to determine those responsible for the arson.
A check for hazards will also be completed before the area can reopen to the public.
Police investigators have also begun the process of reviewing a huge amount of footage taken of yesterday's operation, to identify possible further lines of enquiry and prosecution.
Police have now arrested 100 people, including 11 today, on charges such as arson, grievous bodily harm, inciting violence, theft, assault, trespass and obstruction.
Aitken Street remains blocked from Mulgrave Street.
Parts of Hill Street and Molesworth Street remain closed to vehicles, with limited pedestrian access.
Police are working with Wellington City Council to have the roads affected by the protest back to normal accessibility as soon as possible.
Police continue to manage the cordon around the area.
Over 500 Police staff were involved in yesterday's operation, 40 of whom were injured.
Eight of those officers required hospital treatment and all have now been discharged.
The majority of these injuries were minor lacerations and bumps, however, those in hospital suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries.
Police wish to thank the Wellington community for the level of support for officers involved in policing the occupation, and yesterday's operation.
6pm - It's time for Newshub Live at 6pm for the latest on the COVID-19 outbreak and protest.
Watch online here or tune in on Three.
5:40pm - Former Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters is pointing blame at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the uprising at Parliament due to her "refusal to engage".
But the Prime Minister said on Thursday the blame sat "squarely" with the protesters "who threw the LPG canisters onto the fire, with those who threw bricks at police, who chose to act in that violent way".
The protest against COVID-19 restrictions ended on Wednesday with a violent standoff between police and protesters that resulted in 89 arrests and eight police officers requiring hospital treatment.
Peters, who served as Ardern's Deputy Prime Minister from 2017 to 2020 when NZ First went into coalition with Labour, visited the protest camp last week and did not hold back his belief that the Government should have engaged.
"Last week I said that this would inevitably turn into something akin to the Springbok Tour if the Government continued their refusal to engage - and it's exactly what happened," Peters said on Thursday.
"It was their refusal to engage that allowed the nefarious violent groups time to begin seeping in from around the country in the first place and eventually take over the protest.
"Let's be clear, those few-hundred rioters need to be held to account and no one should try to defend their violent actions.
"But the mistake the Prime Minister is making is attempting to label the entirety of the protest, the thousands that turned up at Parliament, and the hundreds of thousands around the country who supported it, all as a bunch of violent conspiracy theorist deplorables."
5:10pm - Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield is condemning the behaviour being directed at frontline workers handing out COVID-19 rapid antigen tests (RATs) and is urging people to be patient.
On Thursday, Dr Bloomfield was addressing RAT wait times - saying there have been delays at some collection points due to high demand.
"The advice I would give, and it's a request really, is being patient. I know a number of staff working at these sites have actually been subjected to some quite unpleasant behaviour," he told reporters.
"It doesn't make them want to turn up to actually do it and so I'd just encourage people, as they have right through, please be patient. The staff are doing their absolute best."
4:50pm - Here is a statement from Wattie Watson, national secretary for New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union (NZPFU):
The NZPFU and FENZ agree that firefighters should never be used as part of Police operations or enforcement.
Yesterday, hoses were commandeered by Police to be used in and around the Parliament grounds. These were unprecedented events where the hostility and danger to health and safety of the Police, Fire and Ambulance responders was very real and imminent.
The NZPFU has called for an independent Inquiry to thoroughly determine all the circumstances that resulted in fire hoses being used by police and then being turned on the police.
We condemn the untenable position professional career firefighters were in yesterday. We believe that was due in part to the absence of appropriate inter-agency procedures.
We commend and support the professionalism of our members who were put in an untenable situation and acted under Orders and instructions that were beyond their control. They were deployed to extinguish fires and undertook their duties at great risk to their own health and safety, and in the immediate danger of injury from flying objects being hurled from some members of the public, and escalating hostilities.
The NZPFU will be seeking Government assurances to ensure that Police are appropriately resourced to undertake escalating policing operations, and that there are clear inter-agency policies in place, so that the misuse of firefighters and FENZ resources never occurs again.
The NZPFU assures the public that it is never the intention for firefighters to respond to incidents for any enforcement purpose. Firefighters are protectors, not enforcers. They serve to protect and preserve life, prevent or limit injury, and prevent or limit damage to property and the environment.
4:36pm - Chambers says he'd heard of reports of sexual assaults within the protest camp.
He says he received multiple reports of this from within the protest camp.
And with that, his press conference has finished.
4:34pm - Chambers says police will work nationally to respond to protest activity as demonstrators leave the city.
4:32pm - Chambers says he hopes yesterday's police response will bring back some normality to Wellington.
4:30pm - Police will patrol the streets in Wellington and around New Zealand as long as there's unlawful protest activity, Chambers says.
4:27pm - Chambers says he's aware a number of protesters are still in the Wellington area and he encourages them to go home.
He adds that they monitoring their activity.
4:25pm - Chambers won't give the number of protesters they're looking for in terms of their investigation.
He also won't go into individuals who were arrested.
4:23pm - For privacy reasons, Chambers won't go into detail on officers' injuries.
He says he doesn't have the numbers for protesters who were injured.
Chambers says the force police used yesterday was in proportion to what they were facing.
4:21pm - Today, their efforts have focused on reassurance and having visibility around Wellington.
He thanks the public for their messages of support for police.
4:17pm - Chambers has arrived.
Eighty-nine people were arrested yesterday, including one for arson. Eleven further arrests have been made today.
An investigation has begun and they are working to bring together footage to "hold people accountable for their criminal action".
More than 500 police were involved and 40 police were injured yesterday. This ranges from bumps and bruises to head injuries. Eight staff were hospitalised, but they have all since been discharged.
4:10pm - Police's Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers is due to give an update on the protest at 4:15pm.
This will stream in the video player above. Refresh the page if you can't see the stream or click here if you're using the app.
3:55pm - Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson, and Trevor Mallard have done a walkabout around Parliament and have met with police.
3:45pm - Wellington iwi Taranaki Whānui say Wednesday's riot at Parliament was painful to witness, calling it further desecration of their mana and whenua.
Parliament sits on the former Pipitea Pā, and the grounds are known as Kaiota to tangata whenua.
Taranaki Whānui have previously condemned the occupation's impact on the land, the vandalism of their marae, and harassment of locals.
Iwi chair Kara Puketapu-Dentice said watching what unfolded was disheartening.
"With the throwing of bricks, with the fire extinguishers, with the burning of tents and things on Parliament grounds, it's just unnecessary behaviour," he told Midday Report.
"Unnecessary actions that just do more to further desecrate the mana of our whenua."
3:25pm - Auckland Transport warns that with Omicron case numbers continuing to increase across the city, it is expecting to see an increase in cancellations and reduced services across its AT Metro services in coming weeks, due to staff catching the virus.
From Monday March 7, trains will be running to a 20-minute frequency on southern, western, and eastern lines. Pukekohe and Onehunga trains will operate every 30 minutes.
Bus services (including those for school) are running to regular timetables, with the exception of west Auckland bus services and Route 66 where some services are temporarily suspended. Some additional bus services may be cancelled at short notice.
Ferry services are currently running to regular timetables, however some may be cancelled at short notice.
AT says it is working closely with public transport operators to minimise disruptions to passengers, but with the sheer size of the current outbreak it says it is inevitable that there will be an increase in the number of services being cancelled.
Group manager metro services Stacey van der Putten encourages customers to check the status of their services regularly.
"Although we're working hard to update cancellations in our systems, there may be some occasions when these are last-minute and can’t be communicated in time. We recommend that customers continue checking live departures for service updates, either via the website or the AT Mobile app."
She says to help minimise disruptions, AT is supporting operators to get their staff back to work safely, through the use of rapid antigen tests.
"This is a stressful time for Aucklanders, but our staff are doing their best to keep services running and we would greatly appreciate your patience and understanding," van der Putten says.
"We ask our passengers to please treat our drivers and other public transport staff with respect during this difficult time."
3:05pm - Videos from inside the anti-mandate protest show protesters are responsible for starting the first fire at Parliament, not police as many demonstrators claimed.
The anti-mandate protesters are doing everything they can to distance themselves from the chaos that erupted yesterday.
Violence flared up at Parliament on Wednesday as police moved in to remove protesters from the grounds after 23 days. In response protesters took to anarchy, lighting fires, tearing up pavements and throwing bricks at officers. Despite the onslaught, the police managed to take the grounds back by the end of the day.
In response to criticism over their actions, many protest leaders tried to suggest police or Antifa had actually started the fires, not protesters.
But video footage from inside the protest also proves protesters started the fires, not police. In the footage, two men walk into a tent, place something inside then lean down next to it and set it on fire.
As the tent goes up in flames the men throw another nearby tent onto it.
Police are standing metres away at this point. Footage from several other live streams, including Chantelle Baker's, have also disproven the claims.
2:50pm - National Party MP Jacqui Dean says her office has been spray painted with the words "Freedom. F**k all politicians and police".
"I'm in Parliament at the moment but was alerted to this earlier today. Police have been informed and I understand they are dealing with the individual responsible," she says.
"There are many wonderful people around Oamaru who are disgusted by this sort of behaviour and who contacted me this morning when they saw this. I believe that we should respect the right for people to voice their opinions and concerns, peacefully and respectfully - this is the opposite of that. National is the party of law and order and we will not condone this rubbish."
2:45pm - Speaker Trevor Mallard is now talking before the motion passes.
He says he's spoken with police over the past three weeks and he's seen how hard they've worked.
Mallard acknowledges Police Commissioner Andrew Coster for his work.
He also thanks party leaders for being gracious and positive with their communications.
And with that, the Parliamentary debate is finished.
2:42pm - Waititi says the threats towards MPs are not who New Zealand is.
2:40pm - Rawiri Waititi, co-leader of the Māori Party, is now talking.
He says the roots of the protest are a direct result of colonisation.
Waititi says when the vaccine mandates have lifted, Māori will still be facing inequities, including being the highest incarcerated people in the world and being the most unemployed group in New Zealand.
2:35pm - Seymour says that from this point, we need to have a candid chat about COVID-19 and not resort to calling people a "neo-Nazi" if they have a different point of view.
2:33pm - Seymour says some people are misinformed and only want to believe what they read on unverified blogs.
He says that it isn't good enough to say that the protest was driven by conspiracy theories, but also consider that some people were there who were ostracised from those around him.
2:30pm - Seymour says there is a right to protest, but that right doesn't extend to taking the rights from those around you.
The protesters hindered small businesses in the area, he says, and they possibly thought their cause was worth more than the rights of those around them.
2:28pm - Shaw has finished speaking and ACT leader David Seymour is now talking.
Seymour says police encountered "extreme and reckless" violence yesterday, especially with using LPG bottles during the fire.
2:26pm - Shaw hopes those behind the protest are held accountable.
2:24pm - Shaw says the protest wasn't an isolated or new event.
He says New Zealand has remarkable levels of social cohesion and is known for coming together in tough times.
What he's interested in is the ideology behind the protest and how to prevent it from happening again.
2:21pm - Davidson says people who were part of the protest violence early on are now nowhere to be seen.
She has now finished speaking, and her fellow co-leader James Shaw is now talking.
He begins by reflecting on the attack he experienced about three years ago where a man hit him in his eye, and what may have fuelled this.
2:18pm - Luxon has finished talking, and now Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson is speaking.
She says she acknowledges the courage it took police to always have a de-escalation approach during the protest. She says this is a positive step in how we police in New Zealand.
2:14pm - Luxon says it's still vital to examine this protest, including communication between police and Parliamentary staff, and Speaker Trevor Mallard's input.
2:12pm - He thanks police and ambulance staff for their work over the past three weeks.
After speaking with police last night, he said officers told him they had all types of weapons thrown at them, from traffic cones, to paving stones, to chairs.
2:11pm - National leader Christopher Luxon is now speaking.
He says yesterday was a sad day for New Zealand.
"We will always respect people's right to protest," he says, adding that he has often met protesters in the past.
But this protest also felt different for him.
He says the National Party "wholeheartedly" condemns the protesters.
2:09pm - She says her message is simple. She wants to condemn what happened and show that violence will not stand.
"This too will pass," she says. It feels hard being in the pandemic, but soon tourists will return and mandates will lift.
2:07pm - Ardern says she's watched protesters arrive at Parliament before and has received petitions in the past.
But this protest felt different. She says it was a form of protest she didn't recognise in New Zealand.
2:05pm - Ardern is now speaking in Parliament.
She says 89 people were arrested and 40 officers were injured throughout yesterday.
A total 600 police officers were involved, as well as 50 firefighters.
1:53pm - Ardern has now finished talking.
At 2pm, we will have a livestream continuing in the video player above of Ardern leading a Parliament debate in response to protest violence.
1:51pm - Ardern says the misinformation and disinformation seen is imported, especially the way in which it was spread.
1:49pm - Ardern says she stands by the fact that the protest didn't want to engage in a healthy debate.
She says it was clear that it was a different protest New Zealand had seen in the past, particularly considering the violence protesters showed.
1:47pm - Jacinda Ardern is now speaking at a press conference.
She says that the ground of Parliament now look more like a rubbish dump, but she's confident they'll return to normal quickly.
Ardern says the cost of repairing the grounds isn't yet clear.
1:41pm - Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has finished his press conference and is leaving the podium.
1:40pm - Back to Bloomfield, he said of the hospitalised patients, there are about 30 or 40 with the Delta variant.
1:39pm - Here is the latest data from the Ministry of Health on the outbreak and vaccination campaign:
COVID-19 vaccine update
Vaccinations administered in New Zealand
- Vaccines administered to date: 4,020,465 first doses; 3,961,868 second doses; 33,614 third primary doses; 2,408,790 booster doses: 244,626 paediatric first doses and 3,988 paediatric second doses
- Vaccines administered yesterday: 391 first doses; 869 second doses; 94 third primary doses; 17,963 booster doses; 1,391 paediatric first doses and 248 paediatric second doses
People vaccinated (including those vaccinated overseas)*
- All Ethnicities (percentage of eligible people aged 12+): 4,064,719 first dose (96.6%); 4,004,349 second dose (95.1%), 2,410,425 boosted (72% of those eligible)
- Māori (percentage of eligible people aged 12+): 519,652 first dose (91%); 499,474 second dose (87.5%), 206,327 boosted (60.3% of those eligible)
- Pacific Peoples (percentage of eligible people aged 12+): 280,956 first dose (98%); 274,971 second dose (95.9%), 123,883 boosted (58.8% of those eligible)
- 5 to 11-year-olds all ethnicities: 244,508 first dose (51.3%); 3,960 second dose (0.8%)
- 5 to 11-year-olds - Māori: 36,528 first dose (31.6%); 660 second dose (0.6%)
- 5 to 11-year-olds - Pacific Peoples: 21,592 first dose (43.7%); 506 second dose (1%)
*Note that the number for “People vaccinated” differs slightly from “Vaccines administered” as it includes those that have been vaccinated overseas.
Vaccination rates for all DHBs**
- Northland DHB: first dose (90.4%); second dose (87.9%); boosted (70%)
- Auckland Metro DHB: first dose (97.4%); second dose (96.2%); boosted (69.3%)
- Waikato DHB: first dose (95.4%); second dose (93.6%); boosted (68%)
- Bay of Plenty DHB: first dose (95.3%); second dose (93.4%); boosted (69%)
- Lakes DHB: first dose (93.7%); second dose (91.5%); boosted (69.6%)
- MidCentral DHB: first dose (96.9%); second dose (95.3%); boosted (74.4%)
- Tairāwhiti DHB: first dose (93.5%); second dose (90.9%); boosted (70.3%)
- Whanganui DHB: first dose (92.4%); second dose (90.5%); boosted (74.2%)
- Hawke’s Bay DHB: first dose (97.2%); second dose (95.3%); boosted (72.2%)
- Taranaki DHB: first dose (94.9%); second dose (93.2%); boosted (69.1%)
- Wairarapa DHB: first dose (96.8%); second dose (95.1%); boosted (76.1%)
- Capital & Coast DHB: first dose (98.8%); second dose (97.9%); boosted (80.3%)
- Hutt Valley DHB: first dose (97%); second dose (95.7%); boosted (76.7%)
- Nelson Marlborough DHB: first dose (96.9%); second dose (95.4%); boosted (76.9%)
- West Coast DHB: first dose (93%); second dose (91.2%); boosted (74.6%)
- Canterbury DHB: first dose (99.9%); second dose (98.7%); boosted (74.5%)
- South Canterbury DHB: first dose (95.5%); second dose (94.2%); boosted (76%)
- Southern DHB: first dose (98%); second dose (96.8%); boosted (75.7%)
**Partially and second doses percentages are for those 12+. Boosted percentages are for 18+ who have become eligible 3 months after having their second dose
- Cases in hospital: total number 503: Northland: 8; North Shore: 91; Middlemore: 159; Auckland: 147 ; Waikato: 39; BOP: 11; Rotorua: 3; Tairawhiti: 3; Hawke’s Bay: 1; Taranaki: 3; MidCentral: 8; Hutt Valley: 3; Capital and Coast: 12; Nelson Marlborough: 5; Canterbury: 8; Southern: 2.
- Average age of current hospitalisations: 53
- Cases in ICU or HDU: 7
- Vaccination status of current hospitalisations (Northern Region only, excluding Emergency Departments): Unvaccinated or not eligible (50 cases / 14.5%); partially immunised <7 days from second dose or have only received one dose (5 cases / 1.4%); double vaccinated at least 7 days before being reported as a case (134 cases / 38.8%); Received booster at least 7 days before being reported as a case (63 cases / 18.3%); unknown (93 cases / 27 %)
- Seven day rolling average of community cases: 14,972
- Number of new community cases: 23,183
- Number of new community cases (PCR): 3,378
- Number of new community cases (RAT): 19,805
- Location of new community cases (PCR & RAT): Northland (520), Auckland (13,237), Waikato (1,870), Bay of Plenty (1,332), Lakes (537), Hawke’s Bay (315), MidCentral (381), Whanganui (79), Taranaki (289), Tairāwhiti (134), Wairarapa (94), Capital and Coast (1,487), Hutt Valley (642), Nelson Marlborough (271), Canterbury (1,294), South Canterbury (53), Southern (615), West Coast (16); Unknown (17)
- Number of new cases identified at the border: 11 (all probable cases)
- Number of active community cases (total): 146,527 (cases identified in the past 21 days and not yet classified as recovered)
- Confirmed cases (total): 165,440
Please note, the Ministry of Health’s daily reported cases may differ slightly from those reported at a DHB or local public health unit level. This is because of different reporting cut off times and the assignment of cases between regions, for example when a case is tested outside their usual region of residence. Total numbers will always be the formal daily case tally as reported to the WHO.
- Number of PCR tests total (last 24 hours): 20,346
- PCR tests rolling average (last 7 days): 24,183
- Number of Rapid Antigen Tests dispatched (last 7 days): 7.8 million
1:38pm - The Ministry of Health has announced the death of a person in the Bay of Plenty.
"Sadly, a person has passed away in a Bay of Plenty rest home. The person died of an unrelated medical condition while receiving palliative care and had tested positive for COVID-19."
1:37pm - The Ministry of Health has released its statement with all the data on Thursday's COVID figures:
Further increases in cases and hospitalisations are a reminder of the things we can do to slow the spread of Omicron.
Getting vaccinated greatly reduces the chances you will get severely ill and require hospital care if you get COVID-19. Boosters offer a high level of protection against Omicron, so if it has been three months or more since your second dose of the vaccine, please get your booster.
Yesterday, there were 17,963 booster doses administered.
If you’re out and about, remember to wear a mask. Masks reduce the risk of a person both catching and spreading the virus.
Rapid Antigen Test Update
We’ve seen strong uptake of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) by people with symptoms or who are household contacts, by organisations that provide critical services, and across the health system to support delivering care safely.
As announced this morning, if you are symptomatic or a household contact, you can now order RATs through the newly launched RAT requester site. You, or someone of your behalf, can collect your RAT order from a collection site listed on Healthpoint. Please only go to those sites that are listed as collection sites.
People can still access free RATs without an order via Community Testing Centres, but only for an eligible individual. RATs are also available for purchase in some retail stores now for people who are not unwell or household contacts but want a RAT for other reasons, such as for international travelling or for reassurance ahead of visiting vulnerable people.
Yesterday, 3.6 million RATs arrived in the country, with 101 million confirmed for delivery this month. Another 3.5m RATs are being sent out to DHBs today, and yesterday 1.3m were sent out to Primary Health Organisation, which should be received for distribution to GPs over the weekend. GPs use RATs as part of the clinical consultation with patients and are not a general collection site.
There are now 169 collection sites, 109 testing centres, and 26 providers supporting our priority population groups nationwide. And with the addition of participating pharmacies and GPs, there are now more than 500 access points for RATs, with the aim or reaching more than 1000.
The Ministry wants to reassure people that we have enough RATs to help New Zealand through a widespread Omicron outbreak in the coming months. So, while we are anticipating continued high demand, our request is to, please, be patient. Do not order or request RATs from testing centre or collections sites unless you are unwell or a household contact. You can purchase RATs from a retailer if you are well but still want a RAT. Our frontline staff across the health sector are doing the best they can to help in a timely way.
We also want to reiterate our thanks to COVID-19 testing staff for their part in New Zealand’s defence against the virus.
1:35pm - Bloomfield said with the border re-opening we will see more viruses in the community.
He said Kiwis should take COVID behaviours into future illnesses like influenza and flu, for example, that will come in winter.
1:33pm - "Everyone would have concerns about that," Bloomfield said when asked about protesters taking COVID back to their communities.
He said it is a legal requirement to isolate for 10 days if someone tests positive for COVID-19.
He urges any protesters to get a test if they feel unwell.
1:30pm - Bloomfield said it is important people register their positive RAT test results.
He also said that, in registering that positive result, people can identify their contacts. Those contacts who may need to take specific precautions about who they see and what they do.
1:29pm - Bloomfield said there is no sufficient evidence to offer boosters to 12-15 years-olds.
1:24pm - On testing demands, Bloomfield said District Health Boards will continue to open up collection points for COVID-19 testing.
He said there have been some unpleasant behaviour at some testing sites.
He is urging people to "please be patient, the staff are doing their absolute best".
1:22pm - Bloomfield said according to modelling, we can expect the peak of case numbers to be over the next week or two, and hospitalisations to peak around two weeks after that.
1:21pm - "They could be, except we've got these other inductors including hospitalisation rate also as part of that people turning up to EDs who have not been tested," Bloomfield said when asked if our daily cases are a fair picture of the cases out there in the community.
1:18pm - "I'm confident that we have a community provider network that will be able to provide the care that people need when they need it," he says.
Bloomfield is now answer questions.
1:16pm - Bourne is explaining GP's could be overloaded.
"On a usual day in GP they will be seeing 50 000 people, there will be that many contacts in a day," said Bourne,
"While GP's will continue to be able to meet the demand, they won't be able to call every single person that has COVID-19, and so if people are feeling particularly unwell research online," he said.
He is urging people to get information online so the systems don't get overloaded.
1:13pm - Bourne said 99 percent of people with COVID-19 are being safely cared for and isolating in the community.
"The majority of people are able to care for themselves, with support of whanau and others in their community."
Bourne described the Omicron variant as a "mild to moderate illness at worst."
He said this variant is "more similar to cold or flu" so most people can handle it themselves.
He is recommending people have an Omicron first aid kit, which should include Paracetamol, throat lozenges and keeping hydrated.
1:11pm - Bloomfield is handing over to Primary Care Lead Dr Joe Bourne who is speaking virtually.
1:09pm - Bloomfield said the new website where you can order RAT tests you can consider it like "click and click".
He said there is still plenty of opportunities to collect or carry out a test if needed - there are 169 collection sites where critical workers can pick up RATs, over 100 community testing centres.
1:07pm - As of 3pm yesterday, 11 percent of people in hospitals were there with Covid-19, including those in emergency departments, Bloomfield said.
As of yesterday, 18,000 boosters have been administered.
1:05pm - Bloomfield said there are 23,183 new cases of Covid-19 today.
1:04pm - Bloomfield said about 1 percent of the New Zealand population is currently an active case.
Fifty-four percent of the cases announced today are under the age of 30 while 14 percent of cases today are over 50-years-old.
1:02pm - Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield has arrived and is speaking.
He has announced there are 23,183 community cases of COVID-19. There are 503 people in hospital and 7 are in ICU.
12:55pm - Ashley Bloomfield will provide the latest COVID figures in about five minutes. You can watch the announcement at the top of the page or here.
12:40pm - Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield will reveal Thursday's latest COVID figures at around 1pm. You'll be able to watch that live in the video above.
12:20pm - New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says the riot outside Parliament on Wednesday "never should have happened".
Peters says the aggressive and violent scenes were "predictable" and "avoidable" after no one from Government went and talked to the protesters.
Here is the full statement from Winston Peters:
The violence and disorder on parliament grounds yesterday is something that we should never have witnessed in New Zealand - a country we pride ourselves on as being one of the best democracies in the world.
The fact of the matter is the terminal rioting we saw was as predictable as it was avoidable. It was equal parts arrogance and inaction that allowed these rioters to take advantage on the national stage. That fateful die was cast by the Prime Minister and every other politician when they refused to engage with the initially peaceful protest on day one - to expect any other outcome after that pact was signed is just plain ignorance. The simple fact is they all got it badly wrong.
The question that not one journalist thought to ask the Prime Minister during her press conference was "wouldn't this violence have been avoided if you had just engaged with the legitimate protesters on day one?"
It was easy for the Prime Minister to instead justify her inaction by blaming the remaining few hundred violent rioters for the entire past three weeks. But the problem is that is simply not true.
Last week I said that this would inevitably turn into something akin to the Springbok Tour if the government continued their refusal to engage - and it's exactly what happened. One doesn't need to be Nostradamus to have seen this coming, so either the government is totally incompetent or they knew this was going to happen and still did nothing.
It was their refusal to engage that allowed the nefarious violent groups time to begin seeping in from around the country in the first place and eventually take over the protest. In fact, the Police Commissioner stated in his address that in the last week he 'had seen a changing mix and make-up of the crowd. In particular, those with good intentions were now outnumbered by those with the willingness to use violence to affect their means.'
Let's be clear, those few hundred rioters need to be held to account and no one should try to defend their violent actions. But the mistake the Prime Minister is making is attempting to label the entirety of the protest, the thousands that turned up at parliament, and the hundreds of thousands around the country who supported it, all as a bunch of violent conspiracy theorist deplorables. That mistake has been made before.
Perhaps if she or one of her cabinet colleagues had the courage and sense to listen to the original legitimate protester's concerns, not only could this violence have been avoided, but they would also know that the vast majority who travelled from around the country are actually ordinary kiwis who just wanted the government to listen.
Unfortunately, the ultimate outcome could be that the actions of these few hundred rioters may well have caused the wider public to lose both sympathy and sight of what the original legitimate protest was all about.
12:07pm - Wellington City Council said they are ready to help return streets to Wellingtonians as life starts returning to normal after the 23-day occupation outside Parliament by anti-mandate protesters.
"Wellington City Council staff and contractors are standing by and ready to start returning the streets around Parliament to Wellingtonians as soon as possible," the council said.
"Work will be needed to remove rubbish and items left by occupiers, deep-clean street furniture and infrastructure, and to check and repair city assets in the area including roads, signs, lights and wastewater pipes.
"Initial work with mana whenua and central government is also underway to consider the restoration of the mana and mauri of the area, with details of the process to be announced in the coming days."
12:01pm - Police have announced two further arrests were made overnight to take the total in their operation on Wednesday to 89.
Police say Wellingtonians can expect to see officers around the city.
Here is the full statement:
Police are continuing to maintain a high visibility foot presence around the Parliamentary grounds and neighbouring streets, and today Wellingtonians are free to move about.
There have been no significant updates overnight following Police's major pre-planned operation yesterday to restore access within the protest area on Parliament grounds.
Aitken Street, Molesworth Street, and Kate Shepherd Lane remain blocked by concrete bollards but Police expect to begin a removal phase from tomorrow.
The area was generally quiet with a small number of protesters located near the site, and Parliament grounds remain closed.
Police had officers stationed around the perimeters of the CBD area, monitoring the grounds, however there are no issues to report.
Two disorder-related arrests were made overnight, taking the total number of arrests in relation to the pre-planned operation to 89.
There have been no further injuries to staff overnight, with seven in hospital overnight with non-life threatening injuries.
Wellington residents can expect to see Police reassurance patrols as they come into the central business district this morning, allowing them to return with confidence.
Police would once again like to thank the Wellington community for the support shown to our staff and for their patience with the disruption to our city.
11:51am - Anti-mandate protesters have been spotted around Wellington, the day after the occupation outside Parliament finished.
One Twitter user wrote: "Northern shore of Miramar full of plague carrying camper", while someone else spotted them in Shelly Bay.
"At least two clownvoy people-movers parked just south of shelly Bay, and a dozen new campers nearer the other shelly Bay protest (no signs) unusually high numbers of cars at worser Bay too."
11:39am - Protest spokesperson Leighton Baker was arrested during the tense and violent police operation on Wednesday that brought to an end the 23-day long occupation outside Parliament.
A fellow protester posted on his Facebook page on Thursday morning to make the announcement.
"Leighton was arrested yesterday and we have not been able to talk with him yet.
We expect to hear some news later today.
"We have an amazing future as a nation as we support one another and to all the incredible people we have met Thank you so much for all your kindness."
11:32am - Auckland mayor Phil Goff has provided an update on the roads around the Auckland Domain saying they are now open to the public.
Here is the full statement:
The roads into the Auckland Domain/Pukekawa have been reopened to the public this morning following a successful operation by Police and Auckland Council compliance staff to remove the protest encampment that has been occupying part of the public land since Saturday.
Mayor Phil Goff says that the encampment was removed without confrontation or aggression.
"I have been in regular contact with Police and the government to ensure a successful resolution, and our compliance staff have worked closely with Police to achieve this outcome," Goff says.
"Thank you to the police officers and our compliance team for their efforts and for working in a coordinated way to ensure a safe end to the unlawful occupation.
"The right to protest is a fundamental part of our democracy, however that does not give anyone the right to consider themselves above the law.
"Nobody is entitled to camp on the Auckland Domain and to use their vehicles to obstruct access by other members of the public to a public space," says Phil Goff.
"I also acknowledge the disruption to the businesses based within the grounds that the protest has caused and thank them for their patience and support this week. I encourage all Aucklanders to explore the Auckland Domain and its offerings."
10:55am - Better Public Media has expressed its concerns about recent attacks on the New Zealand media from some interest groups saying they are "unwarranted and inaccurate".
"Better Public Media is also concerned by recent claims from Russell Coutts and others that journalists receiving funding from the Public Interest Journalism Fund (administered by NZ On Air) are operating in the current Government's interest.
"Such claims are untrue and are designed to spread further mistrust in the New Zealand media."
10:46am - Auckland City Council have now confirmed to Newshub that the anti-mandate protesters at the Auckland Domain have agreed to leave.
"Council officers have engaged in further conversations with those occupying the Auckland Domain over the past few days," Auckland Council director regulatory services Craig Hobbs said.
"This morning, those remaining on site have agreed to leave, and Auckland Council officers, with police support, are now working with them to remove the remaining camping equipment."
10:35am - Stuff is reporting that the anti-mandate protesters at the Auckland Domain have agreed to leave.
There is currently around 25 police staff and 20 council officers at the Domain.
"Council officers, with police support, are now working with them to remove the remaining camping equipment," Auckland Council's Craig Hobbs said, Stuff reports.
A police spokesperson told Newshub that Police are monitoring the situation to ensure public safety.
"Police are currently present at the Auckland Domain to support the Auckland Council with its enforcement of bylaw breach notices in relation to a small gathering of protestors.
"At this stage, no issues have been reported."
10:17am - The Prime Minister's Office has confirmed that question time will be cancelled today.
"The House determined last night that it would meet for a notice of motion at 2pm on yesterday's events, and then adjourn for the rest of the day. The Prime Minister will lead the debate. She will also do a bridge run in the theatrette at 1.45pm."
10:15am - FIRST Union is cautioning that the next COVID-19 crisis in workplaces could be looming, as many employers are now forcing workers who need to self-isolate with symptoms or close contact relations to use sick and annual leave for their absences rather than continuing discretionary leave with the Government support available.
"This is a ticking timebomb for the country with winter coming and workers now being made to use up annual and sick leave even when they aren't necessarily ill or on holiday," said Ben Peterson, FIRST Union national retail organiser.
"The issue is that public health settings have abruptly changed, with less emphasis on stopping the spread of COVID-19, and employers are cutting support for workers who need to self-isolate.
"Many people who get COVID now are expected to use their sick or annual leave instead of supporting discretionary leave and accessing Government support for workers, which is especially unfair given people may not be ill for the duration of their leave.
"This is compounded when people need to care for family or isolate due to close contact relations, and cynical employers are seeing it as a chance to drive down staff leave balances.
"It's a crisis waiting to happen - flu is expected to flourish in the winter after long periods of empty streets - and employers should be acting pragmatically and in the public interest now to avoid future chaos.
"We could be looking at massive disruption in essential services if workers do actually get sick later in the year, future waves of Covid-19 spread around the country, or God forbid, people need to take a holiday to avoid burnout after years on the frontlines.
"We are asking employers to take this duty seriously - allow discretionary leave for self-isolation, access the considerable support that's available, and treat workers like human beings rather than figures on a spreadsheet.
"The people we hailed as heroes during the first waves of the pandemic are immediately being put at risk at the first sight of daylight, and it's totally unnecessary."
10:05am - University students living in halls of residence say almost everyone they know has COVID-19.
New Zealand has passed 120,000 cases currently active in the community, with 22,152 community cases recorded on Wednesday.
And with young people making up the majority of recent cases, university students who have so far managed to avoid the virus say it is only a matter of time before it gets them too.
For first-year university student Charlotte Werner, that was not what she envisioned orientation week would be like.
Read the full story here.
9:50am - Newhub's political editor Jenna Lynch says question time at Parliament today will be cancelled.
She says that leaders will make statements on Wednesday's events and the house will be adjourned.
9:40am - Free rapid antigen tests are now available for home testing if you are symptomatic or household contact.
But you will have to order rapid antigen tests (RATs) via a website, the Ministry of Health (MOH) says.
The RATs will be available for collection from 146 collections sites throughout the country.
MOH spokesperson Jo Pugh said "the ability to place an order online ensures that the process is smoother when people go to collect them. It also means that the whole whānau don't need to queue up at the testing centre when one person in the household gets sick, because you'll be able to collect RATs for everyone in your household".
Read the full story here.
9:18am - Here is some footage from social media of protesters pelting police with rocks and other objects at the intersection of Lambton Quay and Bowen Street at around 6pm last night.
8:58am - Speaking to AM on Thursday from Parliament, reporter Ashleigh McCaull said it is going to be a major cleanup job for the cleaning crews to get Parliament back open.
"It's hard to believe after 23 days that the anti-mandate protest here in Wellington has finally come to an end," she says.
"When I arrived at the grounds here at Parliament, I was left quite speechless when I looked out towards the grounds of Parliament.
"It really does feel like a tornado has gone through the place and torn through everything in its path.
"Behind me, we have seen some security staff working through all the rubbish and starting to clear away some of that wreckage."
She said that a website has been created for locals to sign up to help clean up Parliament once it re-opens.
"So the next phase is the recovery plan which was developed by mana Whenua and volunteers," she told AM.
"There is a website called the big clean up, so for those Wellingtonians wanting to come in and help clear away what's left here, they can on there and they can sign up where they will be assigned a different shift time once the grounds are open again."
McCaull said there is still a high police presence around Parliament and in the Wellington CBD on Thursday morning.
"Police will also remain here at Parliament. There remains a high police presence, not just here at Parliament but around the streets of Wellington and they will be conducting patrols throughout the CBD to give Wellingtonians the reassurance that it is safe for them to return to work again," she says.
"But by judging by what we have left here, it's going to be a major cleanup job for the cleaning crews."
8:31am - Marlborough Mayor John Leggett said it was time for the protesters camped at Nelson Square in Picton to "hit the road".
"The Picton protesters have said on a number of occasions that they will move on once the Wellington protest was over. Well, that time has now come," Leggett said on Thursday.
He said fresh Police resources were heading to Picton and enforcement action would result if the protest group did not move on voluntarily.
"Picton residents, especially those living near the square, have had enough. My office has received a constant stream of complaints from locals - I don't think the protesters realise how unwelcome they are.
"Picton is a tight-knit community that includes many older folk. The square is in the middle of a residential area. The continued occupation of the reserve is unacceptable.
"I'd like to thank the Tasman Police District for their support over the last three weeks and I look forward to seeing more Police officers on the ground in Picton."
8:23am - Wellington residents around Parliament have been filmed thanking police for their efforts on Wednesday.
Residents in the Kate Shepherd Apartments can be heard shouting "so proud" as officers walk back up Molesworth Street on wednesday evening.
8:03am - Wellington mayor Andrew Foster told AM police did an incredible job of clearing the protesters.
"It's been methodical, it's been professional, they've done themselves proud and they're out and about keeping people safe as well and it's been a pleasure working with them over the past three weeks," he said.
He also praised Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Wellington Free Ambulance and all the council staff who were working to help end the protest.
Foster said council staff are beginning to clean up the area, but he warned it won't happen overnight.
He also praised central city residents who have been under significant strain during the protests.
"The residents, the school pupils, teachers and businesses in the area, we are putting together a package to help, particularly Thorndon businesses, but also businesses across the city who have been so affected by COVID to try to draw people back in."
Foster said the cost of the damage done by protesters adds insult to injury for ratepayers who are already dealing with COVID-19.
7:49am - Coster is defending the force used by police to remove protesters, calling it an example of "restraint and professionalism".
"Even yesterday the force we used was well short of the force you would expect to see in many places," he told AM.
"I didn't see a baton used yesterday, we avoided tear gas, we only lifted the levels of force when it was required to manage the crowd and the restraint, professionalism and courage of our people - you won't see a finer example anywhere in the world.
"That said, we pursued a path of de-escalation from the point where I said publicly that was what was required. We reduced the number of people in vehicles, we got down to a small number of people who, in our assessment, A were not going to move and B the balance of the crowd was shifting.
"It had moved from peaceful protest to in our view a hardcore who were spoiling for a fight and we needed to fix that situation."
Coster said a lot of peaceful protesters left days ago because they were concerned by the shift in behaviour.
When asked who the hardcore group were, Coster said they were "a whole mix of different people".
"I don't think white supremacist is the right description for the core group who were throwing bricks at police yesterday but a mix," he said.
"In the end, occupations don't improve with age and we saw that. Things were declining and we were left with no option but to act."
He said it was a sad day for New Zealand.
"None of us wanted to go there, however, I am also very proud, our team did an awesome job."
7:40am - Police Commissioner Andrew Coster told AM injured officers are doing okay and none have life-threatening injuries.
"We have a couple of head injuries, a chest injury, leg injuries, so a variety of things but given the violence we saw yesterday, we were very fortunate there was nothing more serious," he said.
Coster said at the end of yesterday, officers were left dealing with 50 to 100 protesters who were prepared to use "really serious violence against police ''.
"They were spoiling for a fight. I believe we can de-escalate the situation," he told AM.
"We have a range of other protests going on around the country but none of them had crossed the line as this one had."
He said several of the protesters got in cars last night and left while others have drifted off to other locations but there is no "critical mass" at Parliament causing concern.
Coster said a heavy police presence will remain at Parliament for as long as they feel they need to.
"There will be a lot of work required to clear it up."
7:37am - A Givealittle page has been set up to raise money to rebuild Parliament's playground after it was torched by protesters.
So far, $10,024 has been raised by more than 300 people.
"The much loved slide at Parliament has been damaged by protestors," says Wellington City Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons who organised the Givealittle page.
"Let’s help get it fixed and make it better than ever!
"It is after all the people’s Parliament and a place for everyone to feel welcome and enjoy themselves."
7:32am - Cahill also praised the professional response from police, saying many officers volunteered to help so their colleagues weren't outnumbered.
When asked whether police should have acted earlier, Cahill said frontline officers felt the window to act was very small.
"I've asked officers on the ground about that, who were there from day one," he told AM.
"They reckon we probably had one day of an opportunity. By the second day, the numbers had grown so big that the number of officers available simply couldn't have dealt with it. And we saw that when they arrested 120 people. They simply became overwhelmed."
Cahill said it was also clear early on that certain people involved in the protest were only there for a fight.
"It's a fine line. That first day was seen as a protest and remember, New Zealanders have every right to protest," he said.
"But you would say where was the intel that these people were going to camp and stay.
"My knowledge is that those sorts of occupations were planned constantly and never eventuated, so it's something that needs to be looked at… but my information is that it happened so quickly, and expanded so quickly that they [police] didn't have many options."
7:22am - Cahill said overall officers were well equipped to deal with the protesters, but he wants a review to make sure frontline police agree.
"That's something I certainly want to review with the officers who were there," he said.
"What I will say is there were multiple different teams, some with the full riot gear… Others with just shields."
7:18am - NZ Police Association President Chris Cahill told AM some police officers suffered 'significant injuries' in the riot on Wednesday.
"My understanding is that the officers have significant but not serious injuries but I want to get an update on that to be 100 percent sure," he said.
"But overall they were probably pretty lucky given what we saw yesterday that there weren't very serious injuries."
7:14am - Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson told AM she was left feeling "sad" but what happened outside Parliament on Wednesday.
"Right now, I am feeling sad about everything that happened yesterday. I am here in my Parliament office and I was able to see the sad affair and quite a violent affair," she says.
Davidson said the Greens wanted to minimise violence and didn't want anybody to get hurt.
"We appreciated and acknowledged the de-escalation approach that police largely led over this time, however it was also clear that it was time for the protesters to go home and that leaving the Parliament lawns was going to be the safest way for everyone.
"That was not something that they listened to the call of, that was not something they wanted to do and so we saw what happened yesterday that has left us feeling quite sad but aware that we've got some social cohesion community-building work to do.
Davidson said the protest was very violent before Wednesday's chaotic scenes and was fuelled by some unacceptable hatred.
Davidson told AM she agreed with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's message on Wednesday.
"All along, it was something that I have noticed and spoken up about," Davidson told AM on Thursday.
"It was unacceptable also the threats, the intimidation, the harassment of people going about their day, going to school, heading to work, many of our staff here have felt absolutely intimidated this whole time.
"This violent rhetoric the protest upheld, the presence of the underlining driver from a white supremacist, hatred fulled platform, that has always been violent.
"The mandates are about protecting vulnerable immunocompromised people - elderly, young people - who cannot yet be vaccinated. It was a protection mechanism and wanting to oppose that is a violent presence."
6:59am - National MPs have given their thoughts on the violent scenes which occurred outside Parliament on Wednesday.
Deputy leader Nicola Willis said it was a "horrific day" but was "forever grateful for their [police] services".
Chris Bishop said he was "trying to work while the putrid smell of smoke fills our offices at Parliament".
6:50am - Former Police Negotiator Lance Burdett told AM on Thursday that mistakes were made early on when handling the protests - but they weren't made by police.
Instead, Burdett turned the blame to Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard, hitting out at him over his early tactics to move the protesters on.
"Initially, I think turning the sprinklers on and playing music was a bit of an error," he said.
"That was an error because if you push on people today, they push back twice as hard."
He said while there was already some bad behaviour early on, there were a core group of people who were trying to peacefully protest. But turning the sprinklers on agitated the situation.
"Police are responsible for maintaining law and order - that's their role, they wouldn't have had any influence (over the sprinklers)," Burdett said.
Burdett told AM that another mistake was the Government's refusal to engage with the occupiers.
"As time went on, no one was there to talk. I would expect the Prime Minister would not talk - I would expect she would be too busy… but somebody senior from Parliament could have gone and spoken."
He said the meeting should have happened away from the scenes of the protest and would have helped ease tensions.
He also praised the police for their response, saying the Wellington District Commander did a good job.
6:45am - AM reporter Ashleigh McCaull says Parliament grounds look like they've been hit by a tornado after the chaos on Wednesday.
McCaull said the grounds are closed until further notice for health and safety reasons.
"Police will also be carrying out patrols around Wellington CBD to give assurance to those working in the CBD that they can finally return and be safe in their workplace."
She said there is still a high police presence at Parliament.
6:42am - Metlink has announced that the Wellington Railway Station and all rail services have resumed after being cancelled on Wednesday night because of the protest.
Metlink warned that there may be "minor" delays following the suspension of services and closure of the railway station last night.
"Passengers are advised that there may be minor delays to train services today following the suspension of services and closure of the Wellington Railway Station last night as the protest action around parliament escalated," says Scott Gallacher, general manager for Metlink.
"Metlink and its partners KiwiRail and Transdev will continue to monitor the situation and will follow emergency services and government advice to maintain to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of all passengers and staff.
"Metlink bus services will continue to operate via the diversions that have now been place for at last three weeks.
"As many will have seen on the news last night, the parliament precinct, bus interchange and railway station were compromised by the actions of protestors.
"We took immediate action to protect passengers and staff and thankfully the danger seems to have dissipated overnight and we are able to resume services.
"We thank all our passengers for their patience and understanding. These are exceptional times and we wish everyone to stay safe at this time."
6:38am - Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard announced on Wednesday night that Parliament grounds will be closed until further notice.
He said a recovery plan has been developed and is asking for members of the public to stay away until advised otherwise.
Mallard wanted to thank police, Parliamentary security, Buildings and Facilities, Health and Safety teams and all other staff for their "continued efforts to keep everyone at Parliament and the surrounding areas safe".
6:26am - Speaking to AM on Thursday from Parliament, reporter Ashleigh McCaull said that the grounds have been left looking "apocalyptic" after Wednesday's violent action between police and protesters.
"It is hard to believe after all the chaos that erupted yesterday that everything appears to be quiet," McCaull says.
"There is still a high police presence here around Parliament, they're out monitoring the streets, along with police dogs this morning.
"While we were going around the streets, we never saw a sign of a single protester however the grounds have been left looking apocalyptic. It looks as though a tornado has gone past Parliament, so the cleanup crews really have a big job on their hands."
6:20am - Kia ora, good morning, and welcome to Newshub's live coverage of the COVID-19 Omicron outbreak and the Parliament protest for Thursday, March 3.