Covid: London anti-lockdown protest leads to 104 arrests

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Police said they expect the number of arrests to rise

Police have arrested at least 104 protesters during anti-lockdown demonstrations in central London.

A large police presence remains in place near Trafalgar Square where the protest was dispersed shortly after 19:00 GMT.

Smaller groups of protesters remained on Oxford Street and along the Strand.

The Metropolitan Police said: "This gathering is unlawful and is putting others at risk. We are directing those there to go home."

Officers urged demonstrators to disperse as they took to the streets near Trafalgar Square on Thursday evening, warning those who had gathered that they were breaching coronavirus restrictions.

Protesters began to walk up the Strand soon after 18:00 GMT, chanting "freedom" and "no more lockdown".

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Some protesters wore Guy Fawkes masks as part of the anti-government Million Mask March held annually on 5 November

Commander Jane Connors said: "Our main priority this evening has been to keep Londoners safe.

"We are eight months into this national pandemic and frankly there can be no excuse for people to dangerously breach regulations which are there to prevent further spread of Coronavirus.

"Tonight, a crowd of people chose to ignore the new regulations, to behave irresponsibly and meet in a dangerous manner. More than 100 of these people have now been arrested and will have to face the consequences of their actions.

"We expect the number of arrests to increase as our policing operation continues into the night.

"I would continue to urge people across the city to keep yourselves safe and stick to the regulations."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Protesters have been told to head home or face arrest

The Met said in a statement the majority of arrests were for breaches of coronavirus regulations.

New restrictions mean people should stay at home except for education, work, exercise, medical reasons, shopping for essentials, or to care for others.

Households are not allowed to mix with others indoors, or outdoors.

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