Thousands of protesters gathered in London today to demonstrate against the Covid lockdown rules as Londoners begin life under new Tier 2 restrictions.
The anti-mask demonstrators, who were flanked by police, held placards that read ‘burn your mask’ and ‘this is now tyranny’.
The group is calling for an end to social distancing and face masks as well as wanting to halt any coronavirus vaccines.
Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers, 73, who was fined £10,000 for his part in a previous rally, stood with a megaphone among the crowd that had gathered in Oxford Street earlier today.
Protesters chanted ‘stick your poison vaccine up your ar*e’, ‘take off your masks’ and ‘we are the 99%’ as they walked down the street.
Some carried placards blaming the virus on the new 5G network, while others claimed the virus itself was a hoax.
The protest comes on the day London was placed in Tier 2 lockdown measures, meaning Londoners are now banned from meeting people from outside their household indoors, and a maximum of six outdoors.
Thousands of protesters gathered in Oxford Street today to demonstrate against the Covid lockdown rules as Londoners begin life under new Tier 2 restrictions
The group is calling for an end to social distancing and face masks as well as wanting to halt any coronavirus vaccines
Many of those gathered carried signs reading ‘my body, my choice’ – a slogan borrowed from the pro-choice movement
Piers Corbyn, 73, who was previously fined £10,000 for his part in a previous rally, stood with a megaphone among the crowd that had gathered in Oxford Street earlier today
Protesters chanted ‘stick your poison vaccine up your ar*e’, ‘take off your masks’ and ‘we are the 99%’ as they walked down London’s streets
Corbyn was among the protestors who had gathered in Oxford Street earlier today as they wielded placards adorned with a variety of slogans
Police officers wearing face masks detained one man during the anti-lockdown rally as it reached Leicester Square, London, earlier today
Demonstrators took a detour to Rathbone Square to stand outside Facebook’s London headquarters, although it is not clear whether they were for or against the social media giant, which many have blamed for spreading pandemic misinformation.
The protest later came to a halt in Leicester Square outside the Imax theatre, even though they had originally stated they were heading for Downing Street.
Many of those gathered carried signs reading ‘my body, my choice’ – a slogan borrowed from the pro-choice movement.
One of the organisers told a breakaway group outside Downing Street: ‘Man flu has closed our country and crushed our economy.’
Mr Corbyn had been present during a smaller protest against the new measures in Soho last night which saw some revellers led away in handcuffs.
He said: ‘We’re here to drink against curfew. To oppose the lockdowns, to oppose job losses caused by lockdowns, to oppose all of it. The whole lot should be lifted now.’
It comes as small groups were seen heading out for coffee and keeping to social distancing guidelines in the capital earlier today with more than half of England now living with heightened coronavirus restrictions.
The protestors gathered in Oxford Street earlier today before marching through the capital after London was moved into Tier 2 level of lockdown
Anti-lockdown protestors huddled together during the march earlier today as they carried placards and signs to Hyde Park, London
Protesters attended the rally against vaccinations and coronavirus restrictions at Hyde Park as one woman held signs that read: ‘Question The Government’s Narrative Rise Up Now’ and ‘Freedom Of Speech Is Our Right Covid-19 Is A Hoax’
Regulations in the second level of lockdown means people must not socialise with anybody outside of their household or support bubble in any indoor setting nor socialise in a group of more than six outside – including in a garden.
Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors and will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with others they do not live with or share a support bubble with, or for youth or disability sport.
People can continue to travel to venues or amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but should look to reduce the number of journeys made where possible.
Small groups were seen heading out for coffee and keeping to social distancing guidelines. Pictured: Three friends sitting outdoors at a cafe in Richmond-upon-Thames
Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors under the Tier 2 restrictions. Pictured: Runners out for fresh air along the Thames
More than half of England is living with heightened coronavirus restrictions. Pictured: Shoppers keep to social distancing guidelines in Richmond-upon-Thames
Meanwhile, police fought to enforce coronavirus laws in London last night as they faced defiance from both protesters and drinkers refusing to go home after being turfed out of pubs and bars at 10pm.
Officers were seen leading people away in handcuffs after encountering an alarming lack of compliance just hours before Covid restrictions were tightened.
Boris Johnson yesterday thanked mayor Sadiq Khan for working with the Government to place the capital into the higher alert level – and urged Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham to also cooperate.
Mr Burnham is resisting the Prime Minister’s move to place the region into Tier 3 and is instead agitating for a nationwide lockdown, leaving negotiations with ministers deadlocked.
But Mr Johnson yesterday used a Downing Street press briefing to warn that he is prepared to elevate Greater Manchester unilaterally, with sources suggesting he could impose harsher measures as early as Monday.
Lancashire leaders struck a deal with Government and joined Liverpool in the most severe Tier 3 bracket, meaning all pubs and restaurants must close unless they can serve food.
One runner went solo as he headed along the Thames earlier today as Londoners adjust to more curbs on their day-to-day lifestyle
Shoppers in Richmond-upon-Thames, west London, look carefree earlier today despite the new restrictions now in force in the capital
More than 28million people in England are now living under the top two tiers of restrictions. Pictured: Shoppers wearing facemasks in Richmond-upon-Thames, west London
Group of five rowers took to the River Thames earlier today as they enjoyed some fresh air amid the tougher new restrictions placed on the capital
As more than 28million people in England began living under the top two tiers:
- Mr Johnson said the UK is developing the capacity to manufacture millions of fast turnaround tests for coronavirus which could deliver results in just 15 minutes;
- The National Education Union rowed in behind Sir Keir Starmer’s call for a national circuit-breaker to get infections down;
- The Welsh Government were to meet to discuss a circuit-breaker lockdown and will announce any decisions on Monday;
- Some 15,650 coronavirus cases were recorded in the UK on Friday, alongside 136 deaths;
- A senior scientist predicted Britain could be carrying out a million coronavirus tests a day by Christmas;
- The Prime Minister’s attention briefly switched from the pandemic to warn a No Deal Brexit was likely as both London and Brussels ramped up their tough talk.
At midnight last night people in London, Essex, York, Elmbridge, Barrow-in-Furness, North East Derbyshire, Erewash and Chesterfield were placed into Tier 2.
In addition to following the nationwide restrictions – such as the rule of six and the 10pm curfew – two households will no longer be able to mix indoors, including pubs and restaurants.
Londoners were last night spared the double blow of also having the city’s transport system grind to a halt after an eleventh hour bailout of TfL was struck after a day of high-stakes talks.
Piers Corbyn held up a finger as he spoke to police officers in Soho. The conversation appeared to be animated as the police officer held out a hand
Some in the capital were left puzzled that they were being hit with new restrictions when data revealed that places such as Devon, Oxford and Coventry had higher infection rates but were in the lowest Tier 1.
Yet the capital’s mayor Mr Khan has said ministers are not going far enough and called for a short national circuit breaker, which is also being advocated by Mr Burnham who yesterday refused to cave to the PM’s threats.
The PM warned Mr Burnham he would impose Tier 3 measures on Greater Manchester if they could not reach an agreement as he warned of a ‘grave’ situation.
Speaking from Number 10, he said: ‘I cannot stress enough: time is of the essence. Each day that passes before action is taken means more people will go to hospital, more people will end up in intensive care and tragically more people will die.’
Mr Burnham and council leaders across Greater Manchester responded by insisting they have done ‘everything within our power to protect the health of our residents’, and said people and firms need greater financial support before accepting the lockdown.
They also suggested in a joint statement that Downing Street had delayed discussions, adding: ‘We can assure the Prime Minister that we are ready to meet at any time to try to agree a way forward.’
Scientists say up to one million Brits could be tested per day before Christmas
Britain could be carrying out a million coronavirus tests per day by Christmas with results in just 15 minutes, a scientist working on the testing scheme has said.
The source, who was not named, revealed the government is buying new machines capable of processing 150,000 tests per day with the aim of trebling the current capacity of 300,000.
Separately, trials of pregnancy-style tests which could provide results in just 15 minutes will begin in northern hotspots from next week.
‘It’s going pretty well,’ the scientist told The Times. ‘They have really scaled up their capabilities. By Christmas we’ll be at a million a day, I think. That seems perfectly possible.’
Mr Johnson told a No 10 press conference on Friday that the new tests were ‘faster, simpler and cheaper’ and that work was being done to ensure they could be manufactured and distributed in the UK.
Despite talks with Greater Manchester ending in stalemate, a deal was done with Lancashire region’s leaders where 1.5million people are now living under Tier 3 to stem the ‘unrelenting rise’ in cases in the North West.
Labour’s council leaders in Lancashire said they had been forced to accept the measures, with South Ribble’s Paul Foster saying they were ‘blackmailed’ and Blackpool’s Lynn Williams adding they had ‘no option’ to agree, as they secured an extra £30million of funding.
Pubs and bars across Lancashire will close unless they serve food and alcohol as part of a sit-down meal, while stricter restrictions on socialising will also come into force.
People will not be able to mix with others in any indoor setting or private garden, as well as in most outdoor hospitality venues.
Casinos, bingo halls, bookmakers, betting shops, soft play areas and adult gaming centres will be forced to shut, while car boot sales will also be banned.
But gyms will remain open despite them being closed in the Liverpool City Region – the only other area under Tier 3 restrictions.
Yesterday 15,650 coronavirus cases were recorded in the UK and 136 more deaths as the country grapples with a second surge of the virus.
Sage said the reproduction number, or R value, of coronavirus transmission for the whole of the UK had nudged up to between 1.3 and 1.5.
The group also said there had been no change to the course of the pandemic in the last month, suggesting no effect from measures such as the rule of six.
However, at the Downing Street press conference, England’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the R was not growing as fast as it would be without the measures people were following.
The PM said he would try to avoid a national lockdown but was under growing pressure to impose a short circuit-breaker’.
Britain’s biggest teaching union on Friday rowed in behind Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in calling for an urgent two-week circuit breaker.
The Education Union (NEU) said the move, which would see secondary schools and colleges in England closed for two weeks at half-term, was urgently needed to bolster the test and trace infrastructure.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: ‘Heads, teachers and school staff understand the educational impact of this, but we also understand that in exponential epidemics early action is essential. Taking action now can avoid more disruption later.’
On Friday, figures from the ONS showed that the highest rates of infection in England continue to be among young adults and secondary school pupils.
Mr Courtney added: ‘This should be no surprise to either the Prime Minister or the Department for Education – scientists have consistency told them that secondary students transmit the virus as much as adults, and we have warned them that because we have amongst the biggest class sizes in Europe we have overcrowded classrooms and corridors without effective social distancing.
‘Our classrooms often have poor ventilation, leading to airborne transmissions, and in many areas we have also have overcrowded school transport where children are mixing across year-group bubbles.
‘These children live in families and are part of communities, so even if they have few or no symptoms themselves they are still part of spreading the virus to others, including to teachers and other school staff.’
He added: ‘Such a circuit-breaker could allow the Government to get in control of the test, track and trace system, and get cases lower to allow the system to work better.’
Mr Starmer has said a complete shutdown lasting two to three weeks could be timed to take place over half-term to minimise disruption but warned ‘sacrifices’ would have to be made to get the virus back under control.
The growing calls come as a raft of statistics published this afternoon showed cases are still surging in England by as many as 28,000 new infections per day, according to ONS estimates for the first week of October.
The row continued as people in Tier 2 or 3 areas in England, as well as the central belt of Scotland and the whole of Northern Ireland, were banned from entering Wales from 6pm on Friday.
During the peak of the crisis TfL’s revenues dropped 95 per cent as people were instructed to work from home and footfall on carriages fell. It has risen slightly since lockdown was initially eased after the first wave, but today Mr Khan said passenger numbers will not return to pre-pandemic levels in the immediate future
Tube and bus passengers are rising, but Mr Khan said passenger numbers will not return to pre-pandemic levels in the immediate future
Coronavirus positive tests in London have increased dramatically since the beginning of September but changes in recent weeks suggest the rate of rise is slowing down, with a 37 per cent increase in the seven days to October 7, compared to the almost double 84 per cent in the third week of September
WHAT ARE THE THREE TIERS?
- you must not socialise in groups larger than 6, indoors or outdoors
- certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10pm and 5am
- businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is a take-out service
- places of worship remain open, subject to the rule of 6
- weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees
- exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors, or indoors with the rule of 6
- you must not socialise with anybody outside of your household or support bubble in any indoor setting
- you must not socialise in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden
- exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors. These will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with or share a support bubble with, or for youth or disability sport
- you can continue to travel to venues or amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but should look to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible
TIER 3/VERY HIGH:
- you must not socialise with anybody you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting or in any private garden
- you must not socialise in a group of more than 6 in an outdoor public space such as a park
- pubs and bars must close and can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant, which means serving substantial meals
- places of worship remain open, but household mixing is not permitted
- weddings (but not receptions) and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees
- you should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if you are resident in a very-high alert level area