Australian police urge protesters to leave capital

Feb 13 (Reuters) – Australian police have given thousands of protesters until late Sunday to leave occupied areas of the country’s capital, as multi-day rallies continue against vaccine mandates against COVID-19.

Several thousand protesters remained in place at the main exhibition sites in Canberra, while less than 100 protesters gathered near the federal parliament building, an Australian Capital Territory police spokesman told Reuters. (ACT).

No protesters in Canberra had been arrested so far on Sunday after three people were arrested on Saturday.

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“They must be out by today,” the police spokesman said, declining to say what action authorities would take if protesters refused to comply with demands to leave.

Meanwhile, in Wellington, New Zealand, demonstrators protesting COVID-19 mandates gathered for a sixth day, despite heavy rain and high winds battering the city.

Inspired by trucker rallies in Canada, the social media vision showed protesters occupying Wellington streets outside the city’s parliament building with tents, trucks and vans.

Authorities played songs including Baby Shark, Macarena and Barry Manilow hits over loudspeakers in a bid to break up the protest, amid wild weather caused by the remnants of a tropical cyclone.

Sunday’s storm moved across New Zealand’s North Island, bringing heavy rain and strong winds to many parts, the country’s meteorological office said on its website.

Anti-vaccine protests remain relatively weak in highly vaccinated New Zealand and Australia, where most people support vaccinations.

Australia recorded 22,750 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, while the number of new cases in New Zealand nearly doubled to a daily record of 810.

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Reporting in Sydney by Samuel McKeith; Edition by Lincoln Feast.

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