Anti-vax protesters force Picton Vinnies to close

Vinnies charity shop in Picton has closed due to the spread of Omicron and the town’s increasing numbers of anti-vax mandate protesters, who are not wearing masks.

As part of a nationwide anti-vax mandate convoy, protesters have occupied Nelson Square since last Monday.

St Vincent de Paul Marlborough area president Alan Furness said the Vinnies shops – including those in Picton – are staffed by volunteers, most over the age that the Ministry of Health considered to be elderly.

“With the increasing spread of the Omicron variant and the relatively high number of anti-vax protesters who refuse to wear masks, a high proportion of those elderly shop volunteers feel vulnerable to the increased exposure”.

Vinnies has a duty to provide for the disadvantaged in the community, he said. It also has a duty to its members and volunteers. The decision to close the shop for the meantime was made by the acting shop manager.

Mayor John Leggett said the council deliberately sought a peaceful resolution with the Nelson Square protesters that would not require trespass notices or police involvement.

He said the council has received many complaints from residents, unhappy that an unauthorised group had occupied a local public reserve normally used for recreation.

One resident said that while the numbers at Nelson Square initially decreased, more people had arrived over the weekend.

She said it was frustrating for the nearby residents, many of who were elderly and lived in flats bordering the park.


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