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Coronavirus | Police and protesters clash in London over restrictions

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Sixteen individuals have been arrested for a wide range of offences together with breaching coronavirus laws, assaulting a police officer and violent dysfunction.

London police clashed with demonstrators on Saturday as they broke up a protest in Trafalgar Square in opposition to COVID-19 restrictions amid rising tensions over limits on on a regular basis life as the federal government tries to stem a pointy rise in infections.

Police and protesters have been injured when officers moved in after three hours of speeches in entrance of hundreds of people that packed the long-lasting sq. in London waving placards opposing necessary vaccinations, face masks necessities and limits on civil liberties.

Nine law enforcement officials have been injured, together with two who required hospital remedy for head accidents. Sixteen individuals have been arrested for a wide range of offences together with breaching coronavirus laws, assaulting a police officer and violent dysfunction.

“As the crowds began to swell in Trafalgar Square, it became impossible for people to maintain social distancing and keep each other safe,” Metropolitan Police Cmdr. Ade Adelekan said. “Likewise, there appeared to be no efforts by organisers to engage with crowds and keep those assembling safe from transmitting the virus.”

Police said they intervened because the demonstrators refused to comply with the very social-distancing rules they were there to protest. Officers removed sound equipment, bottles were thrown and police drew their batons in confrontations with protesters. Several people were seen being led away in handcuffs.

The demonstration was held as Parliament prepares to review COVID-19 legislation and the government imposes new restrictions to control the disease. Some lawmakers have criticised the government for implementing the rules without parliamentary approval.

Speakers at the rally denied they were conspiracy theorists, arguing they were standing up for freedom of expression and human rights.

Dan Astin-Gregory, a leadership trainer, acknowledged the deaths and suffering caused by the pandemic, but said the response to COVID-19 has been out of proportion to the threat caused by the disease.

“We are uninterested in the worry mongering and the misrepresentation of the details,” he advised the group. “We are tired of the restrictions to our freedoms.

The government earlier this week ordered a 10 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants nationwide, along with tougher facemask requirements and increased fines for non-compliance. It has also banned most social gatherings of more than six people, but there is an exemption for protests as long as organisers submit a risk assessment and comply with social distancing rules.

Before the demonstration began, police said they would encourage protesters to follow the rules, but they would take enforcement action if protesters failed to comply.

As the demonstration began, officers in high-visibility vests and surgical masks were visible around the perimeter of the square but there was no effort to silence speakers or prevent protesters from gathering.

The atmosphere turned tense later in the afternoon and officers in soft caps were replaced by others wearing riot helmets and face shields. As some protesters shouted, “You’re part of the tyranny,” others sang, “All you need is love.”

Saturday’s demonstration got here every week after the same occasion throughout which hundreds of individuals crowded into Trafalgar Square. Police stated a number of officers have been harm throughout that occasion when a “small minority” of protesters grew to become violent.

Britain has Europe’s worst dying toll from the pandemic, with almost 42,000 confirmed deaths tied to COVID-19. New infections, hospitalisations and deaths have all risen sharply in latest weeks.

In addition to the nationwide COVID-19 guidelines, a number of jurisdictions have imposed tighter restrictions to regulate native spikes in the illness. By Monday, about one-quarter of the U.Ok.’s 65 million folks will probably be residing underneath these heightened restrictions.

London, residence to nearly 9 million folks, on Friday was added to the British authorities’s COVID-19 watchlist as an “area of concern.” That means the U.Ok. capital additionally might face new restrictions if infections proceed to rise in town.



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