Organisers of a protest on Saturday over the possibility Rotorua could get another managed isolation facility say they will abide by level 2 restrictions despite hundreds expected to attend.
The protest is being held at Whakarewarewa Village's upper carpark in Tryon St between noon and 2pm, and is aimed to send a message to the Government they don't want any more managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities in Rotorua, especially near the village.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said yesterday given the public pushback, the decision to go ahead with a fourth MIQ in Rotorua was "unlikely".
Despite his comment, the protest is still going ahead, unless the Government can give a definitive answer.
Protest organiser Aneta Morgan said they had a plan in place to ensure the protest adhered to alert level 2 restrictions, despite hundreds of people likely to attend.
She said the plan was to have people together in groups of 100.
"You can have more than one group as long as they were separated."
She said closer to Saturday, they would issue messaging about their plans and telling protesters it was "imperative" they wear face coverings.
She said although Hipkins' words on Wednesday were pleasing to hear, the protest would go ahead until Te Arawa could be given assurances it wasn't going to happen.
"We are not so easily convinced that that means it's not happening."
With overseas Kiwis queuing to come home and too few MIQ spaces to meet the demand, the Government previously confirmed it was looking at adding facilities in Rotorua and Christchurch.
Rotorua already has MIQ facilities at the Ibis, Rydges and Sudima hotels, and residents have strongly argued the city has already done its share to help.
Those opposing the move included Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick, iwi, local MPs, Rotorua Chamber of Commerce and the Lakes District Health Board - which was concerned about stretched staffing.
Te Arawa Covid Response Hub kaumātua Monty Morrison said he had requested a meeting with Hipkins given his statement to the media on Wednesday.
He said iwi had met his office on Friday last week and expressed their concerns about another MIQ in Rotorua, and he was pleased it appeared their concerns had been heard.
"The indication he gave to media is good news, but it's not a no and until we get a no."
Regarding protesting under level 2 restrictions, Morrison said: "The detailed planning is happening as we speak and we will make sure everyone is safe".
Hipkins has been asked to comment about whether he will give a definite answer about Rotorua having another MIQ, and whether he has concerns about a large protest gathering under alert level 2.
Alert level 2 restrictions
• Gatherings of up to 100 people are allowed under alert level 2 in a defined space.
• A defined outdoor space is a single space if there are walls that substantially divide that space from other spaces — the walls can be permanent or temporary, or
be at least 2m between all people in that space and any other people outside that space.
• It's recommended to socially distance 2m from people you don't know.
• The guidelines don't specify what the requirements are for a street protest, but social gatherings at private homes don't need to contact trace or wear face coverings. However, contact tracing is required at public venues and face coverings are recommended.
• At events such as sports grounds, more than one field can play multiple games as long as each group of 100 is separated. In this situation, groups should try not to mix with each other, or share common facilities such as toilets.
Source: The Government's Covid-19 response website, covid19.govt.nz.