Police 'shut down' anti-lockdown demonstration in London over lack of social distancing

Jimmy Nsubuga
·3 mins read
Protesters gather in Trafalgar Square in London on September 26, 2020, at a 'We Do Not Consent!' mass rally against vaccination and government restrictions designed to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus, including the wearing of masks and taking tests for the virus. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Protesters gather in Trafalgar Square in London (Picture: Getty)

Police have shut down an anti-lockdown demonstration in London after protesters failed to “comply” with social distancing rules.

Crowds had gathered in Trafalgar Square for the “we do not consent” rally on Saturday and at one point shouted at someone on stage to “take off the mask”.

People in the UK are required by law to wear face-coverings in several settings to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The demonstrators, who are protesting against government lockdown measures, did not appear to be wearing face-coverings or to social distance.

The Met Police have now shut down the protest and said in a statement: "Crowds in Trafalgar Square have not complied with the conditions of their risk assessment and are putting people in danger of transmitting the virus.

"This has voided their risk assessment and we have informed the event organisers they are no longer exempt from the regulations.

They added: "By leaving now, you can keep yourself safe and avoid any enforcement action being taken by officers.”

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 26: Members of StandUpX, a community of people protesting vaccination and coronavirus (Covid-19) measures, gather at Trafalgar Square during a mass rally against wearing mask, taking test and government restrictions imposed to fight the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, in London, United Kingdom on September 26, 2020. (Photo by Hasan Esen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
People were protesting the vaccination and coronavirus lockdown measures (Picture: Getty)
Protesters gather in Trafalgar Square in London on September 26, 2020, at a 'We Do Not Consent!' mass rally against vaccination and government restrictions designed to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus, including the wearing of masks and taking tests for the virus. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Protesters gather at a 'we do not consent' rally (Picture: Getty)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 26: Members of StandUpX, a community of people protesting vaccination and coronavirus (Covid-19) measures, gather at Trafalgar Square during a mass rally against wearing mask, taking test and government restrictions imposed to fight the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, in London, United Kingdom on September 26, 2020. (Photo by Hasan Esen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
They held a variety of signs, flags and placards (Picture: Getty)

Footage showed protesters clashing with police and an officer was also seen with a bandage on his head.

Police said 10 people had been arrested and four officers injured following clashes with demonstrators.

The Met earlier said it 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”.

The demonstration came a week after a separate event which saw more than a dozen officers injured when a “small minority” targeted police and more than 32 arrests were made.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 26: Members of StandUpX, a community of people protesting vaccination and coronavirus (Covid-19) measures, gather at Trafalgar Square during a mass rally against wearing mask, taking test and government restrictions imposed to fight the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, in London, United Kingdom on September 26, 2020. (Photo by Hasan Esen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(Picture: Getty)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 26: Members of StandUpX, a community of people protesting vaccination and coronavirus (Covid-19) measures, gather at Trafalgar Square during a mass rally against wearing mask, taking test and government restrictions imposed to fight the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, in London, United Kingdom on September 26, 2020. (Photo by Hasan Esen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(Picture: Getty)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 26: Members of StandUpX, a community of people protesting vaccination and coronavirus (Covid-19) measures, gather at Trafalgar Square during a mass rally against wearing mask, taking test and government restrictions imposed to fight the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, in London, United Kingdom on September 26, 2020. (Photo by Hasan Esen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(Picture: Getty)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 26: Members of StandUpX, a community of people protesting vaccination and coronavirus (Covid-19) measures, gather at Trafalgar Square during a mass rally against wearing mask, taking test and government restrictions imposed to fight the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, in London, United Kingdom on September 26, 2020. (Photo by Hasan Esen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(Picture: Getty)

Commander Ade Adelekan, who is leading the Met operation, previously said while there is “great frustration” at the regulations, a large 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.”

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