Police have arrested more than 150 anti-lockdown protestors in central London during demonstrations today (Saturday) against Covid restrictions.
Hundreds of people marched through Westminster chanting “shame on you” and carrying signs proclaiming “defend freedom, defend humanity”.
Police had lined up in a number of streets in the West End and “confronted crowds of protestors in St James’s Park, near Westminster,” reports Reuters. Anti-vaccine protestors joined those demonstrating against the lockdown with police having earlier intercepted and turned back coaches full of people wanting to join the protest.
Legislation passed earlier this month makes it illegal for more than two people to protest and Met Police Events tweeted yesterday: “We’re aware groups are intending to protest in #London tomorrow. We want to be clear, gathering in groups is not permitted under the current regulations. Anyone looking to join a protest is urged to stay home.”
Patel asks everyone to be ‘conscientous’
Metropolitan police said a number of offences have been committed, including breaching coronavirus restrictions, and tweeted: “We made it very clear how we would police this event, warning those looking to attend that they risked facing enforcement action.”
Nigel Farage posted his thoughts on the arrests this evening, writing: “If they had been Black Lives Matter instead, I doubt there would have been a single arrest.”
Farage was reminded of the numbers of arrests at BLM protests earlier this year, before the new restrictions limiting the size of protest were introduced.
Home secretary Priti Patel said: “We’ve seen our police officers yet again do incredible work to ensure that they help to stop the spread of this awful virus.
“The people that are protesting today have been protesting for many months, and we’ve seen this over successive weekends … We ask everybody to be conscientious – we all know the regulations and the guidance, we have brought these measures in to save lives and to prevent preventable deaths.”
Cardiff crackdowns on motorists breaking Covid laws
Meanwhile South Wales Police have stopped more 100 drivers during the first 24 hours of a crackdown on Covid-19 offences.
The road checks were carried out “on Cardiff’s main arterial routes”, the South Wales force tweeted, to ensure “those visiting the city are doing so within the confines of coronavirus legislation”.
Police issued 12 fixed penalty notices and gave warnings to 15 people with instructions to leave the Welsh capital. The Guardian reports that a family who had travelled from Essex to deliver Christmas presents in Cardiff were among those found in breach of the legislation.
The police powers came into being at 9am yesterday (Friday), under regulation 33 of the health protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) passed by the Welsh government. The powers are available to officers working in the capital until 5pm tomorrow (November 29).
Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan chief superintendent Wendy Gunney, said: “The measures which are in place are in place for a reason.
“Our checks will continue throughout the weekend, and anybody blatantly flouting the rules, which have been made very clear, face being fined.”