Anti-lockdown protesters march through London unlawfully under England’s coronavirus rules for groups to gather for the purpose of protest. The opposition to such Covid measures has grown this week, not specifically related to anti-lockdown demonstrations.
The Home Office said that the COVID-19 stay-at-home order remains in place until March 29, and once it ends the protests can resume subject to agreeing to respect social distancing.
Scuffles broke out as anti-lockdown protesters marched through central London on Saturday, defying police warnings for them to stay away due to coronavirus restrictions.
Police made 33 arrests, mostly for COVID regulation breaches, after about 10,000 people gathered holding banners with slogans such as “Stop Destroying Our Kids’ Lives” and “Fake Pandemic”. Crowded close to one another, protesters also set off flares.
The police were criticised for using heavy-handed tactics to break up an outdoor vigil for 33-year-old Sarah Everard on March 13. A police officer had been charged with her kidnap and murder. Over 60 British lawmakers wrote to interior minister Priti Patel on Friday allowing protests to be allowed during lockdown and that attending a demonstration should not be a criminal offence.
“We call on you to expressly exempt protests from restrictions on gatherings,” lawmakers, including Conservative Member of Parliament Steve Baker and Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said in the letter, which was organised by campaign groups Liberty and Big Brother Watch.
There were three consecutive nights of protest in London earlier this week, fuelled by the police reaction to the vigil for Everard, and anger over government plans to tighten the law on demonstrations.