COVID-19: latest news on the demonstration in Parliament, community outbreak of COVID-19 – Thursday March 3

11:32 am – Auckland Mayor Phil Goff gave an update on the roads around the Auckland Domain saying they are now open to the public.

Here is the full statement:

Roads leading to the Auckland/Pukekawa Estate were reopened to the public this morning following a successful operation by police and Auckland Council compliance staff to remove the protest encampment which occupies part of the land public since Saturday.

Mayor Phil Goff says the encampment was cleared without confrontation or aggression.

“I have been in regular contact with police and government to ensure a successful resolution, and our compliance staff have worked closely with police to achieve this outcome,” Goff said.

“Thank you to the police and our compliance team for their efforts and for working in a coordinated manner to ensure a safe end to the unlawful occupation.

“The right to protest is a fundamental part of our democracy, but it does not give anyone the right to consider themselves above the law.

“No one is permitted to camp on Auckland Estate and use their vehicles to impede the access of other members of the public to a public space,” says Phil Goff.

“I also acknowledge the disruption to field-based businesses caused by the protest and thank them for their patience and support this week. I encourage all Aucklanders to explore the Auckland Domain and its offerings.”

10:55 – Better Public Media has expressed concern over recent attacks on New Zealand’s media by certain interest groups, saying they are “unwarranted and inaccurate”.

“Better Public Media is also concerned about recent claims by Russell Coutts and others that journalists receiving funding from the Public Interest Journalism Fund (administered by NZ On Air) are acting in the interests of the current government.

“Such claims are untrue and aim to spread further mistrust in the New Zealand media.”

10:46 – Auckland City Council has now confirmed to Newshub that anti-mandate protesters in the Auckland Domain have agreed to leave.

“Council officers have engaged in new conversations with those occupying the Auckland Estate over the past few days,” said Auckland Council Regulatory Services Director Craig Hobbs.

“This morning those who remained agreed to leave, and Auckland Council officers, with the support of the police, are now working with them to remove the remaining camping gear.”

10:35 a.m. – Stuff reports that anti-mandate protesters in the Auckland Domain have agreed to leave.

There are currently approximately 25 police officers and 20 municipal officers at the Estate.

“Council officers, with the support of the police, are now working with them to remove the remaining camping gear,” said Craig Hobbs of Auckland Council, Stuff reports.

A police spokesperson told Newshub that police are monitoring the situation to ensure public safety.

“Police are currently present at the Auckland Estate to support Auckland Council in enforcing bylaw breach notices regarding a small gathering of protesters.

“At this stage, no issues have been reported.”

10:17 a.m. – The Prime Minister’s Office has confirmed that Question Time will be canceled today.

“The House decided last night that it would meet for a notice of motion at 2 p.m. on yesterday’s events and then adjourn for the remainder of the day. The Prime Minister will lead the debate. She will also run a deck in the theater at 1:45 p.m..”

10:15 a.m. – FIRST Union warns that the next COVID-19 workplace crisis could be looming, as many employers are now requiring workers who need to self-isolate with symptoms or close relationships to use sick and annual leave to their absences rather than continuing discretionary leave with government support available.

“It is a ticking time bomb for the country with the arrival of winter and workers are now forced to use their annual and sick leave even when they are not necessarily sick or on vacation,” said Ben Peterson, National FIRST Union Retail Organizer.

“The problem is that public health metrics have changed abruptly, with less focus on stopping the spread of COVID-19, and employers reducing support for workers who need to self-isolate.

“Many people who contract COVID now should use their sick or annual leave instead of supporting discretionary leave and accessing government support for workers, which is particularly unfair given that people may not not be ill for the duration of their leave.

“It’s made worse when people have to care for family or self-isolate due to close relationships, and cynical employers see it as a chance to cut staff leave balances.

“It’s a crisis that awaits – the flu should thrive in winter after long periods of empty streets – and employers should act pragmatically and in the public interest now to avoid future chaos.

“We could be looking at massive disruption to essential services if workers actually get sick later in the year, if future waves of Covid-19 spread across the country, or God forbid people have to take vacations to avoid burnout after years on the front lines.

“We ask employers to take this duty seriously – allow discretionary leave for self-isolation, access the tremendous support available and treat workers like human beings rather than numbers on a spreadsheet.

“The people we hailed as heroes during the first waves of the pandemic are immediately put in danger at first light, and it’s totally unnecessary.”

10:05 a.m. – University students living in halls of residence say almost everyone they know has COVID-19.

New Zealand has passed 120,000 currently active cases 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’s only a matter of time before it catches them too.

For college freshman Charlotte Werner, this wasn’t what she envisioned for orientation week.

Read the full story here.

9:50 am – Newhub political editor Jenna Lynch said Question Time in Parliament today would be cancelled.

She says leaders will make statements on Wednesday’s events and the House will adjourn.

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