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Protesters taking part in an anti-lockdown demonstration in London have been urged to abide by coronavirus restrictions and warned that violence will not be tolerated.
Saturday’s protest in Trafalgar Square comes a week after a separate event during which more than a dozen officers were injured when a “small minority” targeted police and more than 32 arrests were made.
Facebook groups and other social media channels being used to organise the event indicate that large numbers are planning to travel into the city from other parts of the country, using public transport and other means.
The rally will come six months after the Coronavirus Act 2020 – which gives the government powers to impose lockdowns – came into force.
A coalition of groups, who draw support from 5G conspiracy theorists, coronavirus sceptics and anti-vaxxers, are involved in this weekend’s demonstration. Speakers are expected to include the conspiracy theorist David Icke.
Another event, billed as a “People’s network and family picnic”, is also being organised by the same activists for Sunday in Hyde Park.
The Metropolitan police said they had been engaging with organisers throughout the week to remind them of their legal obligations and explaining the events could be in breach of coronavirus regulations.
While protests are exempt from the rule of six, which is in force in England, organisers must submit a risk assessment and comply with social distancing.
Police said some organisers had done so but where this had not happened the Met will “increase their engagement and encourage attendees to disperse”.
They added that enforcement “remains a last resort but will be undertaken if required”.
Commander Ade Adelekan, who is leading the Met operation, said while there was “great frustration” at the regulations, a large midday protest could put the health of protesters and their contacts at risk.
He said: “I know there is great frustration to these regulations but they have been designed to keep everyone safe from what is a lethal virus.
“By flagrantly gathering in large numbers and ignoring social distancing, you are putting your health and the health of your loved ones at risk.”
He added: “Last weekend it was highly disappointing to see that a small minority of demonstrators targeted officers with violence. Some 15 officers were injured during this protest, with more than 32 arrests being made during the course of the day.
“I will not tolerate a repeat of this behaviour this weekend and officers will respond quickly to any scenes of violence.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: London lockdown protesters urged to follow Covid rules | World news