Arrests at anti-lockdown protests; summer blow for ‘average holidaymakers’

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Thousands of anti-lockdown protestors defied the government and Covid restrictions to take to London’s streets today, with at least 33 arrested by the Metropolitan Police after “ugly clashes”.

Huge protests in Manchester passed without any arrests reported though the city centre was brought to a standstill by demonstrators against the new policing bill, violence against women, and the lockdown, who were joined by Black Lives Matter (BLM) supporters.

In London protestors congregated at Speakers Corner to hear Piers Corbyn – brother of Jeremy and one of the most prominent anti-lockdowners – state that he would “never take a vaccine” while making claims about the scale of deaths.

He was surrounded by police who detained several people before ordering the crowd to disperse. Most proceeded to march from the park, through London, to Marble Arch. Some protestors remained in Hyde Park and the Evening Standard reports that glass bottles “were hurled at police” as darkness descended.

“Police can be seen striking one protestor with a baton as others try to rip him away from their grasp,” states the Standard’s report , adding officers were forced to retreat back to their vans while a group of “around one hundred chased police vehicles, punching and kicking them, as they left the area”.

By 18.45 the police had made 33 arrests, mostly for breaching Covid-19 regulations. Earlier the Met tweeted their officers in London were “engaging with those gathering around Piccadilly and other areas of central London to protest, explaining that we remain in a public health crisis and urging people to disperse or go home.”

Manchester brought to a halt

There are no reports of arrests in Manchester where protests brought the city centre to a halt on Saturday as groups combined to voice their opposition to violence against women and the new police and crime bill, alongside anti-lockdowners and Black Lives Matter protestors.

The Manchester Evening News reports the police – with support from tactical aid units – “surrounded the large gathering but did not intervene in the demonstrations.”

Massive crowds marched through the city following speeches through the afternoon and further protests are planned for next week.

Irony of protesting lockdown and ‘media’s naked bias’

“The irony of wanting lockdown to end and then prolonging it by doing the exact thing it is trying to prevent,” tweeted Dr Benjamin Janaway, a psychiatrist and chief commissioning editor at TrustedMedicine.

Former Brexit party MEP and journalist Martin Daubney took issue with the reporting of the size of today’s (March 20) protest by broadcaster LBC.

Daubney, a former editor of ”lads mag” Loaded, tweeted: ““Hundreds?!” Ever noticed how the MSM adds 0s to protests or marches it supports, and removes 0s from those it doesn’t? It’s blatant, naked bias – but above all it’s terrible journalism #antilockdownprotest

Protests follow vigil and policing bill

Today’s protest comes just a week after a vigil at Clapham Common for Sarah Everard where police drew heavy criticism after clashing with mourners paying tribute to the murdered woman and others protesting male violence on women.

Barely 24 hours later, Priti Patel introduced the second reading of the contentious policing bill to the Commons which contains clauses that seriously impact upon peoples’ democratic right to protest. Following two days of debate, the highly controversial bill sailed through the Commons with 358 Conservative MPs voting for it and 263 MPs from opposition parties voting against. The DUP abstained.

Sixty-two MPs and peers yesterday wrote to the home secretary – in a letter coordinated by Big Brother Watch and Liberty – to tell her it was “not acceptable and is arguably not lawful” to allow the police to criminalise people for protesting.

Among the signatories were Conservative MPs Steve Baker, Andrew Mitchell and Sir Christopher Chope, as well as the Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey and Labour politicians.

Travel for the ‘average holidaymaker’ extremely unlikely this summer, says expert

Meanwhile British holidaymakers will have an eye on reports that ministers are drawing up a new “traffic light” system to rate foreign countries’ risk regarding coronavirus – with “green” lit destinations having higher vaccination rates.

Travel companies are enjoying a surge in bookings in the UK with May 17 the date outlined on the prime minister’s roadmap out of lockdown for the resumption of foreign travel.

However, England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty “is said to be particularly nervous about the consequences of lifting restrictions too quickly”, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Earlier, Mike Tildesley – a member of the government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) – told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think that international travel this summer is, for the average holidaymaker, sadly I think, extremely unlikely.

“I think we are running a real risk if we do start to have lots of people going overseas in July, for instance, and August because of the potential for bringing more of these new variants back into the country.

“What is really dangerous is if we jeopardise our vaccination campaign by having these variants, where the vaccines don’t work as effectively, spreading more rapidly.”

Scientists warn UK may be hit with third wave despite vaccine roll-out

Alarm is growing among scientists that the feared third wave emerging in Europe will hit the UK, derailing Johnson’s plans to lift Covid restrictions by June 21.

“It’s a fact that when waves one and two hit Europe they hit us afterwards,” said a government source quoted by The Times.

Sage – the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies – is not yet calling for changes to Boris Johnson’s roadmap for easing restrictions, but it is urging caution. The impact of reopening schools will not be apparent for a couple more weeks.

The latest figures show the number of new Covid-19 cases recorded in Britain yesterday was 4,802 – the seven day total is down 8.7%. The number of deaths of people with the virus was 101 while the weekly total was down 36.8%.

The news comes as the UK set a record for the number of vaccine jabs delivered in one day for the second consecutive day, with 711,156 first and second doses administered bringing the total number of people jabbed to 26,853,407 – approximately 51% of the adult population.

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