Protests

‘Zero Covid’ Lunacy Drives Brain Drain From Hong Kong

Hong Kong has been suffering a brain drain after years of enduring first anti-democracy crackdown and more recently Zero Covid lunacy. The Telegraph has the story.

The brain drain that Hong Kong is suffering from as tens of thousands of mainly middle-class, educated professionals seek to escape has become so extreme that even Carrie Lam, the city’s Chief Executive was forced to acknowledge it this week.

“It’s an unarguable fact that we have a brain drain and some senior management of some corporates have left Hong Kong,” she said on Wednesday.

Ms. Lam tried to blame it on the city’s coronavirus restrictions, which have isolated the city with 21-day quarantines on arrival, flight bans and shut infected people away in sparse Government facilities. 

But the city has seen more and more people leaving ever since the turbulent pro-democracy protests of 2019.

Hong Kong’s population plunged at a record pace in the 12 months that ended in June 2021, officially putting it at about 7.39 million.

Victory for Protestors in New Zealand as Jacinda Ardern Announces Plans to End Restrictions and Vaccine Mandates

New Zealand will lift COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions after the Omicron peak has passed, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said, as protesters occupying the parliament grounds again clashed with police. Reuters has the story.

Inspired by truckers’ demonstrations in Canada, thousands of protesters have blocked streets near the parliament in the capital Wellington for two weeks with trucks, cars and motorcycles, piling pressure on the Government to scrap vaccine mandates.

Ardern refused to set a hard date, but said there would be a narrowing of vaccine requirements after Omicron reaches a peak, which is expected in mid to late March.

“We all want to go back to the way life was. And we will, I suspect sooner than you think,” Ardern said at a weekly news conference.

“But when that happens, it will be because easing restrictions won’t compromise the lives of thousands of people – not because you demanded it,” she said, addressing protestors.

Leaders can, to save face, claim that it’s not because of the protests, but the truth is the protests have reminded governments that they cannot expect to ride roughshod over people’s liberties and bodily autonomy and face no backlash or disruption. Now let’s see if the protestors can keep the pressure on and bring the end-date forward and ensure the lifting is comprehensive.

Worth reading in full.

Royal College of GPs Calls For Cancellation of NHS Vaccine Mandate as Thousands March in Protest

The NHS vaccine mandate should be cancelled to prevent staff shortages, the Royal College of GPs has said, as thousands took to the streets across England to protest against the policy. The BBC has more.

NHS staff must have a first jab by February 3rd and be fully vaccinated by April 1st to continue in frontline roles.

The Department of Health said there were no plans to delay and it was “the right thing to do to protect patients”.

NHS workers who oppose the Government’s mandatory vaccination policy have staged a protest in central London.

Demonstrations were also held in other cities across England including Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. …

Martin Marshall, Chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said compulsory vaccination for health professionals in England was “not the right way forward”.

He said the vast majority of staff were vaccinated but some 70,000 to 80,000 were not and they accounted for 10% of staff at some hospital or GP surgeries.

Some 94.3% of NHS trust health care workers in England have had a first dose of vaccine and 91.5% have had a second dose, figures to December 31st show.

If unvaccinated staff were taken out of frontline roles by April 1st there would be “massive consequences” for the NHS, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He said a delay would allow time for booster jabs and a “sensible conversation” about whether vaccines should be mandatory at all.

Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said some frontline staff would have to leave their roles if they choose not to be vaccinated.

He said: “This will reduce frontline NHS staff numbers even further and lead to more gaps in capacity at a time of intense pressure and patient demand.”

In London, demonstrators marched from Regents Park to the BBC headquarters in Portland Place in a peaceful protest against mandating vaccines for health workers.

But Dr. Nikki Kanani, medical director of primary care for NHS England, said health care professionals had “a duty” to make sure they were protected.

She said: “If you’re marching today, just take a moment, think about the people that you’ve been looking after who have experienced Covid, think about your colleagues who you’ve been working with, and think about the best way to make sure that we’re all protected, and that we’re all as safe as possible, because we are very much in this together and it’s down to us to look after each other too.”

Meanwhile, Kate, a nurse in Hampshire, told the Today programme she was prepared to lose her job rather than have a coronavirus vaccine against her will.

“I don’t feel like the vaccination needs to be mandated because we are medical professionals and we have enough information to make that decision for ourselves,” she said.

“When I had Covid I was ill but not particularly unwell and when it comes to me being forced to do something or lose my job, I just can’t understand how they think that’s a sensible position. I’m good at my job, I care about people, and I certainly have never and would never put people at risk.”

Pressure growing on the Government to U-turn on this, which can’t come too soon. With the evidence that Omicron both evades the vaccines and is mild, what justification there might have been has now clearly evaporated. Perhaps the Government is leaving the U-turn to the last moment in order to maximise the pressure on unvaccinated staff to accept the jab. Which is of course cruel, but then so is the policy so we can hardly expect them to care about that.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: talkRADIO has tweeted about the protests taking place today in London and across the country: “Thousands of people have gathered in central London to protest against the mandatory vaccine mandate that could see more than 70,000 NHS workers lose their jobs.

Thousands Gather at Scotland Anti-Lockdown Protest

An ‘unplanned’ anti-lockdown protest in Scotland’s largest city has taken place today that appears to be one of the country’s largest demonstrations since the pandemic began. MailOnline has more.

Thousands of protesters gathered at Glasgow Green at 1pm on Saturday as public anger boiled over at First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s latest Covid curbs.

The activists began the unplanned procession by marching through Argyle Street, one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, during what the campaign group called a “Freedom Rally”.

Some of them were pictured carrying placards saying “Do you trust your government with your life?” and “vaccine passports means your body will be owned by the state forever”. 

The protest is believed to have been organised by Scotland Against Lockdown, a group that runs campaigns against mandatory facemasks.

The campaigners are also opposed to the Scottish and U.K. Governments’ Coronavirus Act 2020, social distancing and mandatory vaccines, according to its social media pages. 

Official data showed Covid cases in Wales and Scotland are increasing faster than in England despite the nations’ harsher restrictions.

Confirmed infections are rising more than twice as quickly in Scotland as they are in England, jumping from 6,976 to 14,006 in the former nation in the week up to January 2nd – an increase of more than 100%.

For comparison, cases increased 44% in England to 129,014 during the same period. They increased by more than 52% in Wales to 9,718. 

Worth reading in full.

Footage of the Protests in Paris Last Saturday

A filmmaker based in France has sent us some highly professional footage she recorded at last Saturday’s anti-Health Pass protest in Paris, featuring lots of vox pops with the protestors. The reaction of the French riot police to the peaceful protestors is extremely aggressive, reminiscent of the Met’s Territorial Support Group. Hats off to these brave men and women standing up for their civil liberties.

Video from odysee.

Headteachers Told To Call Police if People Protest Against Vaccination of Healthy Teenagers Outside School Gates

Parents who are considering demonstrating against the vaccination of their healthy teenage children outside their local school’s gates may have to think twice, with headteachers having been told to call the police if ‘anti-vaxxers’ plan protests near their sites. The Telegraph has the story.

The U.K. Health Security Agency has now issued guidance to headteachers who believe protests could be held outside their school over participation in the vaccination programme, advising them to contact police to help manage the situation.

The agency said it was aware some schools had received campaign letters and emails with “misinformation” about the vaccine programme, after ministers confirmed the roll-out.

Three million 12 to 15 year-olds across the U.K. will be eligible, and the programme is expected to be delivered primarily within schools.

In new guidance, the agency said it knew of schools seeking advice on how to handle protests, and suggested they get in touch with the School Aged Immunisation Service (SAIS) team at the “first opportunity” to understand “what security planning they have in place”.

“In the event of a protest or disruptive activity outside a school, or if schools know a protest is planned, they should alert the SAIS provider, local authority and police contacts to discuss the best way to manage the situation,” the guidance added.

Heads and teachers have also been advised “not to engage directly” with misinformation campaigns about the vaccine, but should “acknowledge receipt of concerns” and “refer to the latest scientific guidance on the issue” if necessary.

It comes as NHS England said its objective was to vaccinate children as “quickly as is safe and practical, with the majority of school visits completed and vaccinations administered before October half term”.

Any child who hasn’t received their dose within those five weeks should have the date of their vaccination confirmed, a letter sent on Wednesday to providers stated.

The programme should be ready to start administering jabs “no later” than Wednesday September 22nd, it added.

It is understood that the Department of Health and Social care is also drawing resources which will be issued to local authorities and schools imminently on how to handle potential protests.

Dr. Nikki Kanani, GP and Deputy Director of the Covid vaccination programme, said: “It is completely unacceptable for anyone involved in administering the Covid vaccine to be subjected to verbal abuse or violence, and we will be working with local partners to ensure that children, teachers and vaccinators are safe while carrying out these life-saving vaccinations.”

NHS England is expected to advise SAIS teams to follow that guidance, which is likely to reflect similar instructions issued earlier in the year on how to deal with violence, threats and abuse at vaccination sites.

Worth reading in full.

Sydney Anti-Lockdown Protest Organiser Sentenced to Eight Months in Prison

One of the organisers of a recent anti-lockdown protest in Sydney has been sentenced to a maximum of eight months in prison for helping to plan an “unauthorised” demonstration and for breaking other lockdown-related rules. He will serve a minimum of three months in prison. The Guardian has the story.

Anthony Khallouf, 29, one of the organisers of last month’s anti-lockdown protests and a key figurehead in the broader movement surrounding it, was arrested by police in Sydney on Thursday after travelling from Queensland in breach of public health orders.

Khallouf appeared in Hornsby local court on Friday, charged with breaches of public health orders, including travelling from Queensland to Sydney and his involvement in planning an unauthorised protest for this weekend.

He pleaded guilty to four counts of not complying with a direction relating to Covid, encouraging the commission of crimes, and false representation resulting in a police investigation.

New South Wales police said in a statement on Friday afternoon that he was sentenced to a maximum of eight months in prison, with a non-parole period of three months.

Khallouf is the founder of Australians vs The Agenda, one of the larger anti-lockdown groups with more than 12,000 followers on Telegram. Originally from Victoria, last year he was charged with incitement for allegedly helping to organise a protest in Melbourne.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Damien Cave writes in the New York Times on Australia’s reliance on quarantine infrastructure as a long-term answer to Covid.

The problem… is that even humane quarantine amounts to a forced retreat. The decisions made by governments about who poses a risk are rarely politics-free, and frequently go beyond medicine to fears shaped by emotions and biases.

Also worth reading in full.

“This Is Not the Country That I Grew Up In”: Australian Widow Arrested for Exercising Near Home

Following reports of the Australian army being deployed to ensure citizens are abiding by strict lockdown rules, an elderly Sydney resident has written to the Australian about being arrested for exercising near her home. Police officers interpreted this as an offence because the resident, a widow, was wearing a sign and walking in an area she rarely visited. Her letter, republished below, highlights the lengths to which the Australian authorities are going to snuff out the faintest flickers of protest.

I am a 78 year-old widow who chose to exercise in the Sydney central business district (CBD) on Saturday. I wore a sign saying: “Not happy, Gladys.” I was alone, I am fully vaccinated and I was wearing a mask.

I was stopped by police and asked what I was doing. I said I was exercising within 10km of my home. They told me I was not allowed to wear a sign while exercising. Both they and I were very respectful but I was arrested on the grounds that, as I did not normally exercise in the CBD, and was wearing a sign, I was protesting and not exercising.

This is not the country that I grew up in. And the really sad thing is that there will be so many who have been intimidated into cringing cowardice and who will just say of me: “Stupid old biddy, serves her right for not just being obedient.”

Mary M. Ancich, Birchgrove, Queensland

Thousands March Against Lockdown in Major Australian Cities

Anti-lockdown protests across the world seem to be occurring both more regularly and on larger scales. Most recently, thousands have marched in major Australian cities, including Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, against restrictive measures, with more than half of Australians currently under lockdown.

After the protests had ended, the New South Wales Police Minister, David Elliott, issued a stern warning to all who marched – not just the few who turned violent. He announced the formation of “Strike Force Seasoned, which will see 22 detectives work from now until whenever it concludes identifying as many people as possible who attended today’s incident and have them charged”. He went on:

I’m hoping that we issue 3,500 infringement notices, I’m hoping that we have people before the court, and I really hope that we can get some charges and convictions out of today’s work by the New South Wales Police. It’s essential for people to get the message. And to those that are calling for it to occur again next week, look out because these 400 officers will turn to 4,000 if needs be.

The Guardian has more.

Thousands of angry, unmasked people marched through the Sydney central business district on Saturday afternoon demanding an end to the city’s lockdown, which is entering its fifth week.

[David] Elliott said 57 people were arrested and several police officers had been assaulted.

“If we don’t see a [Covid] spike in the areas these protesters came from in the next week I’ll be very, very surprised,” Elliott said.

“It was just a whole lot of halfwits.”

Demonstrators broke through barriers in the Sydney CBD and threw plastic bottles at police.

Similar scenes unfolded in Melbourne and Adelaide, which are both in lockdown, and Brisbane, which is not.

As demonstrators were gathering in Sydney, the New South Wales Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, revealed a record number of new coronavirus cases had been detected – 163 in the previous 24 hours – and pleaded with people to stay at home. …

Hazzard condemned the planned protests as “really silly” on Saturday morning.

“We live in a democracy and normally I am certainly one who supports people’s rights to protest… but at the present time we’ve got cases going through the roof and we have people thinking that’s OK to get out there and possibly be close to each other at a demonstration.” …

In Melbourne, thousands of protesters turned out in the central business district chanting “freedom”. …

Protesters held banners, including one that read: “This is not about a virus it’s about total Government control of the people.”

The protest was brought to a violent end by police. An AAP photographer wearing visible press accreditation was pepper sprayed as police cleared the rally, as were other photographers.

The Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, had labelled the idea of protesting against the lockdown as “ridiculous”.

“Protest against this virus by staying at home, following the rules and getting out of lockdown,” he said. …

A car rally is also planned for locked-down Adelaide, the state capital of South Australia, with police warning they will make arrests over unlawful activity.

Worth reading in full.

Tens of Thousands Demand Their “Freedom to Dance” in London Protest

The protest isn’t over in London. Today, tens of thousands of people have turned out to a party to demonstrate against the Government’s attack on the live music industry through the imposition of numerous lockdowns and the continuation of social distancing measures. The MailOnline has the story.

Crowds blocked Regent Street during the FreedomToDance march organised by Save Our Scene, demonstrating against the ongoing Covid restrictions that are keeping nightclubs and music venues closed in order to stop the spread of the virus.

The lively protest saw open-sided trucks rigged with speakers providing a mobile club atmosphere for the punters as they poured out onto the streets without masks to protest against coronavirus restrictions on nightlife.

Young protestors were seen puffing on balloons as they walked along in the festival-feel crowd on one of London’s busiest shopping streets.   

Others were seen brandishing signs reading “let the music play”, “music is medicine” and “everybody’s free to feel good, but not dance”.

The results from 10 Government-led trial events were recently released and identified only 28 positive Covid test results among 58,000 participants. So when will the Government do as these protesters ask and “let the music play”?

The MailOnline report is worth reading in full.