Protestors and police clash as PM ponders second lockdown for UK’s second Covid wave

Downing Street Health and Education Law and Justice

Anti-lockdown protestors have gathered at Trafalgar Square as the prime minister toils in Downing Street to devise a response to alarming rises in Covid-19.

Police have clashed with anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, 5G conspiracists, pro-cannabis activists and anti-lockdown protestors in London who have congregated in their thousands for today’s “Resist and Act For Freedom” rally in the capital.

“We are the resistance!” organiser Kate Shemirani, told the cheering crowd.

The Daily Mail reports an “army of Metropolitan Police officers” moving in on “angry demonstrators defying coronavirus laws against mass gatherings”. Protestors carried placards stating “this is now tyranny”, “scam”, and “the Covid lie”. They formed “barricades” to prevent police officers from making arrests “before fighting broke out in front of the National Gallery.”

The protest comes as parts of the UK enter local lockdowns and speculation grows about new measures the government will introduce to combat the coronavirus after the prime minister warned yesterday that the country is entering its second wave.

UK’s ‘perfect storm’

The UK is facing a “perfect storm” according to epidemiologist Prof Neil Ferguson, because of the loosening of lockdown rules over the summer combined with testing problems and people returning to work and schools.

Ferguson – who helped shape the government’s first lockdown strategy before being forced to resign from Sage for failing to adhere to rules put in place – said: “We have in some sense a perfect storm right now of people, as they have been told to, getting back to normal – schools reopening, a surge in cases, so therefore the testing system is under strain.”

He is calling for “a temporary lockdown” that is “less restrictive” than that imposed in March to reduce infections and ease the pressure on the testing system.

‘PM prepared to impose sweeping new measures’

Boris Johnson is “prepared to impose sweeping nationwide measures to curb the spread” of the virus, reports the Guardian, after the PM last night (Friday) warned: “We are now seeing a second wave coming in.

“We’ve seen it in France, in Spain, across Europe. It’s been absolutely inevitable, I’m afraid, that we would see it in this country.”

The PM said keeping schools open is “going to happen” but the country may “need to go further than the rule of six” introduced on Monday (September 14).

“We’ll be looking at the local lockdowns we’ve got in large parts of the country now, and see what we can do to intensify things,” Johnson said during a visit to Oxfordshire.

‘Circuit breaker’

The latest response – and buzz-term – being considered is a “circuit breaker” which Mark Woolhouse describes in the Telegraph as “the social distancing version of short, sharp shock to drive down incidence over a two-week period.”

The “circuit breaker” will not eradicate the virus but it will buy the government some time before infection rates rise again.

Other options being considered include the earlier closing of pubs and restaurants, a nationwide wide ban on households and friends socialising, and 10pm curfews.

Bolton spike after holidaymaker’s pub crawl

Meanwhile, a single holidaymaker who went on a pub crawl after returning from Ibiza is being blamed for contributing to the spike in Bolton.

The town in Greater Manchester has the country’s highest infection rate – 211.1 positive cases per 100,000 people – a huge increase from 12 cases per 100,000 recorded less than three weeks ago.

The unnamed man was supposed to have quarantined for 14 days but instead “visited a number of premises [which] led to a large number of individual transmissions” the leader of Bolton council, David Greenhalgh said.

The Conservative politician told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme  the man became symptomatic “two days after they had gone on this pub crawl” and tested positive the following day.

“That is four or five days where all the people he was in contact with have been going about their normal day-to-day business,” said Greenhalgh who described attempts to trace and test all those people and their contacts as “like holding back the tide”.

Greenhalgh said Bolton’s high rate of infections is linked back to pubs and a “cohort of people” deliberately ignoring the guidance and added the spike “took us by surprise as we were arguing to have a further easing of restrictions at the time.”

13.5 million already under local lockdowns

Figures released yesterday (Friday) show 4,322 new cases in 24 hours, bringing the UK’s total to 385,936 confirmed coronavirus cases with an official death toll of 41,732 on September 18.

Recent new measures introduced by the government means 20% of the UK population – approximately 13.5 million citizens – are already under local lockdowns.

Scientists warned in May and June that the government was easing lockdown restrictions “too soon” and that the PM was acting “prematurely” in lifting rules.

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