Thursday, December 9

Covid-19: Police oppose bail for protesters fearing they will violate lockdown rules again


Police have opposed the release on bail of two protesters who were arrested because they feared they would continue to organize events in violation of lockdown rules.

Andrew Coster, Police Commissioner

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said if people persistently organize events during the shutdown, it creates a problem for everyone.
Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Three people were arrested in Christchurch yesterday after police were called to protest against the shutdown. A police statement said the protest followed a similar gathering on Wednesday when warnings were issued to two people.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said there have been a small number of gatherings across the country that generally protest the shutdown.

“Our approach has been to encourage people to disperse and give them a chance to leave, including a warning of the risk they take if they stay and then if people have persisted, we have moved to law enforcement.”

He said that with the Delta variant having people together really increases the risk.

Coster said a couple of people who were arrested were detained and the police objected to bail.

“The reason for this is that if people are persistently organizing events that break the rules, that creates a problem for all of us.

“People who are persistently joining groups, that really increases the risk, and so we’ve taken a pretty firm line with those people.”

When asked if there was a danger that this approach could give these people a ‘martyr status’ and build their profile, Coster agreed, but said it was a balancing act for the police.

“You can clearly see that this is part of the objective, I mean that some of these protests were taking place outside the police stations.

“Ours is a balancing act, what is the risk of an enforcement action versus the risk of not doing it and with the Delta variant we’ve seen in NSW, what happens when protests have been allowed to continue to escalate and, in this case, we have taken early action. “

Coster said any protest must wait until the country comes out of the blockade.

He said the police expect some protests this weekend and in at least one case the police have already sent a warning letter to their organizers about the risk they are taking.

Coster said the letter told them not to protest under lockdown and that they can expect enforcement action if it goes ahead.

Mask using

Coster said wearing masks is still new and some people won’t realize it, while others will take a while to adjust.

“Where we had a couple of arrests yesterday it was not just because of the mask they were wearing, but because of the way they were behaving with the supermarket staff and that situation had escalated, so we ended up with a couple of arrests.”

But Coster said that, in general, the police are trying to educate people about wearing masks.

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This is an official COVID-19 ALERT.

All New Zealand You are now at Covid-19 Alert Level 4.

The alert level will be reviewed after 3 days for all areas EXCEPT Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, which will likely remain at level 4 for an initial period of 7 days.

A community case of Covid-19 has been identified.

Stay at home whenever possible and follow level 4 alert guidelines. This will stop the spread of Covid-19 and SAVE LIVES.

All are asked to:

Wear a mask and keep a distance of 2 meters from others when you leave your house.

If you are sick, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on getting tested.

Keep scanning QR codes every time you leave your home.

Practice good hygiene: wash your hands often.

Services that include supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics and gas stations will remain open at alert level 4. Face covers are mandatory for all people, both employees and customers, in companies and services that operate at alert level 4 that involve contact with the client.

For more information on Alert Level 4, go to [the government website www.covid19.govt.nz]

***

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