Activists protest against ‘fake virus’
A group of activists have clashed with police at a protest against Britain's coronavirus lockdown in central London.
Dozens of people, including the brother of former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, gathered at Hyde Park on Saturday to demonstrate against the strict lockdown measures brought in by the government to slow the deadly virus's spread.
Some held signs that read "freedom over fear", "no to the new abnormal" and "no to mandatory vaccinations", while others shouted through megaphones.
Protesters boo as man led away in handcuffs by police at Hyde Park anti-lockdown protest pic.twitter.com/ZpCPqmsypG— Thomas Hornall (@Thomashornall) May 16, 2020
Jeremy Corbyn's brother, Piers, was handcuffed and led away by police after shouting that the virus was fake.
He claimed COVID-19 was linked to the 5G network, describing it as a "pack of lies to brainwash you and keep you in order".
Another protester, 50-year-old David Samson, told local media his civil rights were being suppressed by a "fake virus".
Similar protests were planned in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but were not widely attended.
In Cardiff, just two protesters turned up, warning England would be "the next North Korea".
Crowd control no problem at UK Freedom Movement rally in Belfast’s Ormeau Park to protest at Covid-19 restrictions. Around 20 took part, most socially distancing as per restrictions. “Fake News, Fake Virus” was mantra. “Flat Earth Society” response from one onlooker @rtenews pic.twitter.com/82VF033QYi— Vincent Kearney (@vincekearney) May 16, 2020
FIRST WEEKEND OF NEW RULES
More than 241,400 cases of coronavirus have now been confirmed across the UK and more than 31,500 people have died.
The protests come just days after lockdown restrictions were eased in England, with residents now allowed to spend more time outdoors.
Britons can enjoy picnics and sunbathe outside, as well as exercise and play outdoor sports such as tennis, basketball and golf.
They can also meet one other person from a different household, as long as they stay outdoors and at least two metres apart.
Visiting friends and family at their homes is still prohibited, as well as gathering in groups of two or more.
On Friday, Metropolitan Police had warned that large protests, marches and assemblies were still not permitted.
"The public can expect officers to be out patrolling this weekend," Chief Superintendent Karen Findlay said.
"In the event of spontaneous or planned mass gatherings taking place in a public space this weekend, officers will engage and encourage people to comply with the conditions in order to reduce the risk to public health.
"The majority of Londoners are listening and adhering to the guidance set out, but where necessary, we will be turning to enforcement as a last resort," she said.
Originally published as Activists protest against 'fake virus'