Scuffles break out as thousands descend on Covid hotbed London to protest restrictions


Demonstrations have been organised by groups including ‘Take a Stand London’, ‘Save our Rights’ and ‘The Great Reopening’ – who are protesting against further restrictions, including vaccine passports and mass testing

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Anti vaccination protesters scream abuse at police officers

Thousands of Brits have descended on London in protest against lockdown restrictions.

Demonstrations have been organised by groups including ‘Take a Stand London’, ‘Save our Rights’ and ‘The Great Reopening’.

The groups gathered in Westminster, London, where Omicron cases are soaring – with seven people having now died from the variant.

Police officers are said to have suffered “minor injuries” during “scuffles” in the protests.

The demos come as London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in the capital this afternoon due to the rapid spread of the Covid.

The UK’s eight worst Covid hotspots are now in London, where the variant has become the dominant strain, causing the overall cases to double in just a week.

The protest is bolstered by an umbrella movement called the “Together Declaration”, with 170,000 signatures including business, religious and campaign leaders, as well as MPs.

People march to protest against Covid lockdown in London
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The movement campaigns against mandatory vaccinations as well as an end to vaccine passports and mass testing.

Together Declaration also argue mandating NHS staff to be double-jabbed is “completely immoral”.

The group says: “Implementing vaccine mandates for NHS front line staff will significantly impact patient care.

“The NHS is already understaffed and many of those front line staff worked tirelessly through the last 20 months under intense pressure. To treat them in this way is completely immoral.

“Our next campaign aims to support NHS staff in opposing mandatory covid vaccines with legal and practical advice and also to support employees in other industries as vaccine mandates may be imposed on other sectors.

“In Europe and the US, vaccine mandates have been implemented for public and private sector organisations resulting in huge job losses, and we must not let that happen in the UK.

“Once this dangerous precedent has been set, it can be expanded at will.”

A protester with a placard awaits the start of the march. Thousands of people come out to protest against the latest COVID19 restrictions in London
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Police officers were injured while attempting to escort a police motorcyclist through the area at around 12.30pm, the Met said in a statement.

Video footage from the protest posted on social media show protesters shouting abuse at officers and throwing flares in their direction.

Later at around 3pm a group of protesters stopped outside a shop on Regents Street, police said.

They began “directing abuse” at people inside and egging the shop until police intervened, ending the incident. No injuries were reported

Officers are said to be “closely monitoring” the demonstration.

A protester screams during a clash wit the police ahead of the march
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The Met added that no arrests have been made.

London has seen 65,525 new confirmed Covid cases in the past seven days, and 26,418 cases reported in the last 24 hour period alone – the highest number since the start of the pandemic.

Declaring the major incident, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The surge in cases of the Omicron variant across our capital is hugely concerning, so we are once again declaring a major incident because of the threat of COVID-19 to our city.

“The Omicron variant has quickly become dominant with cases increasing rapidly and the number of patients in our hospitals with COVID-19 on the rise again.

The Freedom Rally proceeds down Victoria street
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The Freedom Rally proceeds down Victoria street in protests against restrictions
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“We are already feeling the impact across the capital and while we are still learning about this variant, it’s right that London’s key agencies work closely together to minimise the impact on our city, including helping to protect the vital vaccination programme.

“We know that the vaccine offer our best defence against the virus. There are now more clinics in London delivering vaccines than at any point during the pandemic.

“I urge all Londoners to book their appointment or to go to one of the many walk-in centres across the capital as soon as you can.”

Back in January 2021, Khan took the same decision as the rapid spread of the virus and the increase of Covid cases in hospitals were putting the NHS at risk of being overwhelmed.

The police clash with protesters ahead of the march in central London
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Georgia Gould, Chair of London Councils, said: “The rapid spread of Omicron across our city is of huge concern.

“Local councils have stepped up and played a vital role in supporting their communities through the pandemic, I know they will continue with these efforts but we cannot do this alone.

“Vaccines offer the best protection against the virus and now more than ever it’s important that Londoners take up the offer to get a booster as soon as possible.

“If you’ve not had your first and second dose yet, please do come forward and protect yourselves and others around you. Together we must do all we can to defeat this virus.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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