Updated Nov 28, 2020 - World

London police arrest 155 during anti-lockdown protests

Police officers intervene a protestor as anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protesters stage a march in central London, England
Police officers stop a protester as anti-lockdown demonstrators march in central London. Photo: Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

London police arrested at least 155 people during protests against coronavirus lockdown measures Saturday, the Metropolitan Police said.

Driving the news: Protesters, including many who were not wearing masks, marched through parts of London, chanting "freedom" and holding signs that read: "no more lockdowns," per Sky News. The country has been under a national lockdown since Nov. 5.

  • The U.K. will impose a strengthened version of an earlier three-tiered system of local restrictions to curb COVID-19 when the lockdown ends Dec. 2, officials announced last week.
  • Most of the country, including London, will be in the two highest tiers, meaning some 55 million people will continue to face strict measures, including a ban on mixing with other households while indoors, per BBC.

What they're saying: "More than 150 arrests were made while policing today's protest in London. We made it very clear how we would police this event, warning those looking to attend that they risked facing enforcement action," the Metropolitan Police tweeted.

  • Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell said: “This was a challenging day for Met, City of London and British Transport Police officers and I would like to thank them for the professionalism they have shown throughout the day."
  • The Met said in a statement on Friday that protests were "not currently a permitted exemption to the prohibition on gatherings under the current Coronavirus regulations."
  • “This type of behaviour not only breaks the law, it also risks spreading the virus between multiple areas of the country," Stuart Bell added.

Some civil liberties groups called the Met statement a "chilling misrepresentation of the law that fails to respect both the Coronavirus Regulations currently in place and fundamental freedoms of assembly and expression."

The big picture: The U.K. recorded 15,871 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, down from 16,022 reported a day earlier.

  • The country recorded 479 deaths on Saturday.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new comments and an updated number of arrests from the Metropolitan Police.

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