Police have urged anti-lockdown protesters gathering in central London on Saturday to maintain social distancing and warned that violence towards officers will not be tolerated.
A number of demonstrations are planned, including a large event in Trafalgar Square, a Metropolitan Police news release said. Protesters are expected to move on to Hyde Park.
Commander Ade Adelekan, who is leading the police operation, said officers would continue to take the approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging people to following the regulations.
“However, if people fail to comply, and continue to put themselves at risk, officers will take enforcement action,” 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.”
While it is currently illegal in England for people to gather in groups of more than six, there is an exemption for protests. However, protest organizers must submit a risk assessment and comply with social distancing.
According to the Metropolitan Police, some organizers have submitted risk assessments for Saturday’s demonstrations but others have not.
Adelekan urged against a repeat of the hostility police reported at demonstrations last weekend, which he said resulted in injuries to 15 officers and more than 30 arrests.
“Last weekend it was highly disappointing to see that a small minority of demonstrators targeted officers with violence,” he said. “I will not tolerate a repeat of this behaviour this weekend and officers will respond quickly to any scenes of violence.”
London was on Friday added to the national Covid-19 watchlist amid concern over rising coronavirus case numbers.
Source : CNN