- There are 454 new Covid-19 cases in the community, a slight increase on yesterday’s 446 new cases. Twenty-seven cases are in hospital.
- The parliament protest is now in its fifth day, with speaker Trevor Mallard’s decision to run the lawn sprinklers overnight not deterring more people from joining the occupation. One arrest was made overnight. A heavy rain warning is in place for Wellington.
As the anti-mandate Convoy protesters readied for a fifth night camped out on the lawns of the New Zealand parliament, the speaker of the house tried a new tactic: installing a sound system, cranking it up and treating the crowd to Barry Manilow’s ‘ Copacabana (At the Copa)’, the Macarena, and Covid-19 public health messages, all on a 15-minute loop. The rotation also includes an announcement by Trevor Mallard, the speaker of the house, whose responsibilities include oversight of the parliamentary complex, reminding protesters that “erections of tents or any structure is not permitted” and ordering them to leave the grounds.
It is just the latest in a series of efforts from Mallard. On Thursday he ordered the grounds closed, meaning that anyone who gathered there could be considered a trespasser. Yesterday he ordered that sprinklers in parliament grounds be left on overnight. Protesters responded by digging trenches in the lawns. Today they attempted to lampoon Mallard by letting loose in the wet weather a number of rubber ducks.
Mallard told media local residents had been consulted on the use of loudspeakers, and supported the tactic, which may run through the night. “We wanted to make sure everybody here had the warning about trespass and because of the number of unvaccinated people in the audience, we believe it’s important to promulgate messages about vaccination,” he said. Of the sprinkler gambit, he said on Friday night: “They’re not legally on the ground, so there is no problem adding a little to their discomfort.”
To date the police have made 126 arrests, 122 of those coming on Thursday. Around 1,000 protesters remain at parliament despite heavy rain. They appear to be able to bring large items into the grounds unperturbed: images shared on social media showed a stack of boxes containing patio heaters.
Livestreams from the grounds show protesters responding to the latest tactic with boos, songs of their own, and dancing to the Macarena. Another small group of people could be seen inside Parliament House dancing to the Los del Río tune.