Lockdown and vaccine protesters arrested

Top News | REUTERS 30 Nov 2020

At least 155 people were arrested in London as police tried to break up anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protests at the weekend.

The arrests had been made for different offenses, including assaulting a police officer, possession of drugs and breaching coronavirus restrictions. England's current lockdown ends tomorrow.

Earlier police lined up in a number of streets in central London's West End shopping district and confronted crowds of protesters in St James's Park, near Westminster.

The anti-lockdown protesters were joined by groups who oppose a Covid-19 vaccine.

One officer estimated the protesters, who held up signs saying "Defend Freedom, Defend Humanity," "No more lies, no more masks, no more lockdowns," numbered between 300 and 400.

Police said they had intercepted and turned back coaches full of people wanting to join the demonstrations.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told lawmakers that England needs tough restrictions after its current lockdown ends if hospitals are not to become overwhelmed. He said the measures will end in February.

It was reported that Johnson wrote to lawmakers ahead of their vote on the new measures tomorrow to say that the tiered approach has "a sunset of 3 February" and they will be reviewed every two weeks before then. Lawmakers will then vote again on January 27, according to the letter.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove warned that without further restrictions on most of England's population hospitals would be overwhelmed. He urged lawmakers to back government plans.

More than 20 million people across large swathes of England will be forced to live under the toughest tier of coronavirus restrictions.

A growing number of lawmakers in Johnson's Conservative party have voiced opposition to the tiered restrictions plan.

Some argue that the areas they represent have low infection rates but face the toughest rules, while others say the new measures will cause unnecessary economic harm to local businesses.

Gove said the level of infection across the country remained "uncomfortably and threateningly high."

He added: "These new tiers, alongside the wider deployment of mass testing, have the capacity to prevent our National Health Service being overwhelmed until vaccines arrive."

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