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A van carrying New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was chased and driven off the road by anti-vaxxers who branded her a ‘Nazi’ after she launched a new wave of Covid restrictions across the country.
Footage shared online showed the moment the 41-year-old PM’s van was forced off the road in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, by motorists who shouted ‘shame on you’.
Diplomatic Protection Service officers watched on as those recording the video cried out ‘we do not consent’ and accused the premier of ‘hiding in the back’ of a silver Mercedes van.
Ardern was branded a ‘wussy’ and ‘Nazi’ amid a stream of obscenities as the footage showed the anti-vaxxers drive closer to the van and force the vehicle onto the curb.
The PM later shrugged off the car chase, telling reporters at a press conference on Tuesday that ‘at no point was I worried about my safety’.
It comes after Ardern announced a swathe of new measures under the country’s Covid Red Alert system, meaning a return to universal mask-wearing and stricter quarantine requirements for New Zealanders.
The PM rolled out the restrictions after nine cases of the Omicron variant were detected in a single family that flew to Auckland for a wedding earlier this month.
Critics slammed the return of draconian curbs on everyday life, pointing to the fact other countries have started to reopen despite reporting thousands of new cases.
Shocking video footage shared online showed the moment a silver Mercedes carrying Jacinda Ardern was forced off the road in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, by motorists who shouted ‘shame on you’
The anti-vaxxers used their car to block the road, forcing the Mercedes carrying the New Zealand PM up onto the curb (above)
Jacinda Ardern later shrugged off the car chase, telling reporters at a press conference on Tuesday that ‘at no point was I worried about my safety’
In the clip, which was shared across social media last week, one of the group identifies the 7-seater Mercedes said to have Ardern in the back.
‘Look at her hiding in the f****** back’, a woman says, before calling the PM a ‘wussy b****’.
Video shot from inside the vehicle then shows the anti-vaxxers chase the Mercedes through Paihia. At one point, a woman can be heard joking about potentially being arrested.
Inside the pursuing vehicle one woman says: ‘This is fun. We’re on a chase!’ Another adds: ‘We’re in pursuit for the Prime Minister’.
Those recording the video are then seen stopping directly in front of the van, which makes a quick evasive maneuver by darting up onto the curb, before driving away.
Diplomatic Protection Service officers watch on as those recording the video cry out ‘we do not consent’ and accuse the premier of ‘hiding in the back’ of a silver Mercedes van
Critics warn the extreme Zero Covid policy is ‘unworkable’ and could lead to more cases with greater number refusing to be tested in order to avoid the lengthy quarantine period (pictured, anti-vaxxer protesters at a Covid vaccination clinic in Auckland)
All of the harsh Covid curbs introduced by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
March 16, 2020: Mandatory self-isolation for all new arrivals, including New Zealanders into the country.
March 19: All non-residents or citizens are banned from entering the country under an international border ban.
March 25: Nationwide lockdown enforced, with only essential services allowed to open. At this stage, NZ has recorded 102 cases and 0 deaths.
June 8, 2020: Ardern announces no new community transmissions within the past fortnight and says NZ has eliminated transmission of Covid.
August-September 2020: Auckland’s 1.7million residents endure two months of lockdown measures after 4 new cases are initially recorded.
February-March 2021: Auckland re-enters lockdown as three new Covid cases are recorded in the community.
17 August: All of New Zealand re-enters Level 4 lockdown measures for two weeks as one new community case is recorded.
October: Traffic light system is created, barring unvaccinated residents from entering businesses, gyms and barbers in ‘red’ or ‘amber’ alert areas.
January 2022: Public backlash as major events and sporting fixtures are capped at a maximum of 100 people under Covid Red Alert measures.
January: Ardern announces she has cancelled her own wedding after nine new Omicron cases were recorded.
Under current rules in New Zealand, those who are unvaccinated are unable to eat at indoor restaurants or visit gyms or hairdressers.
And under new Covid curbs enforced by Ardern, all residents must wear face masks in public areas such as shops and there are limits on gatherings to a maximum of 100 people from Monday after a cluster of Omicron cases were detected in the country.
The changes mean Ardern was forced to postpone her own wedding.
Anyone testing positive must now isolate for 14 instead of ten days – and household contacts have to isolate for an additional ten days on top, leaving them to stay indoors for 24 days.
Ardern has faced a slew of criticism from campaigners and members of the public after imposing strict Covid curbs since the start of the pandemic.
International borders were promptly closed on March 19, with a nationwide lockdown enforced on March 25 after 102 cases, and no deaths, were recorded in the country.
On June 8, the PM announced there had been no new community transmissions within the past fortnight and says she is ‘confident New Zealand has eliminated community transmission of Covid’.
But within two months, Auckland was placed under strict lockdown measures after just four new cases were recorded in the city area.
A draconian ‘Zero Covid’ goal was then implemented across the country, with New Zealand aiming to completely eradicate the virus from its shores.
But this policy was met with ridicule as the Delta variant ripped through the world in the summer of 2021, prompting a return to multiple weeks of lockdown for Auckland’s 1.7million residents.
The car chase comes amid a recent rise in the number of public protests and incidents involving anti-vaxxers.
Ardern was again met by anti-vax protestors during a visit to Waitangi last week, in which the decision as made to cancel in-person Waitangi Day events.
Last November, a press briefing in Kawakawa was interrupted by a singing protestor who was holding her baby and claimed Ngāpuhi had not ceded its sovereignty.
In another instance, American pharmacist Shane Chafin blasted Ardern over the country’s Covid-19 vaccinations.
New strict measures were imposed by the New Zealand premier after a cluster of Omicron cases were detected from a single family who attended a wedding in Auckland earlier this month.
New Zealand reported 24 community cases and 47 infections at the border in the latest 24 hour period. In the UK, where cases have been falling in recent weeks, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data shows another 76,807 positive tests were logged in the last 24 hours.
New Zealand’s cases, which had no link to the border, prompted Ms Ardern to announce her wedding would be postponed because she ‘was no different to other New Zealanders’.
‘Such is life,’ she told reporters during a press conference in which she reiterated the country was not entering a lockdown.
‘My wedding will not be going ahead, but I just join many other New Zealanders who have had an experience like that as a result of the pandemic.’
The new restrictions have also meant that major events across New Zealand have been cancelled, after sporting fixtures and events were limited to a maximum of 100 people.