Maskless anti-vaccine and anti-lockdown protesters have clashed with police in central London as they demonstrate against the delay of Freedom Day by blocking roads and hugging strangers in defiance of covid rules.
Police were seen attempting to contain a large group of covid sceptics in Parliament Square, as some protestors offered ‘free hugs’ to others without masks.
Protestors demanding an end to all Covid restrictions held signs reading ‘your obedience is prolonging this nightmare’ and ‘our kids aren’t lab rats’ as they marched through the streets.
Loud horns blown by the protestors were seen to spook a group of half-a-dozen police horses who had been drafted in to help control the crowd in Parliament Square.
The protest comes as Boris Johnson seemed to dismiss the prospect of easing the remaining coronavirus rules early, as he refused to rule out future lockdowns and warned the nation should brace for a ‘rough winter’ whilst visiting a laboratory in Hertfordshire today.
The Prime Minister has delayed ‘Freedom Day’ by four weeks to July 19 but a two week review will take place on July 5 to see if the return to normal can be moved forward.
Mr Johnson said ‘Delta’ variant cases, hospitalisations and admissions to intensive care are still rising and the country must therefore be ‘cautious’.
Protestors demanding an end to all Covid restrictions held signs reading ‘your obedience is prolonging this nightmare’ and ‘our kids aren’t lab rats’ as they marched through the streets surrounding Parliament Square, London
But he insisted it is ‘looking good’ for the rules to be lifted at the ‘terminus point’ of July 19 as he said the ‘vaccination rollout is going gangbusters’.
However, Mr Johnson declined to rule out reimposing draconian curbs later in the year as he warned ‘some new horror’ could emerge which ‘we simply haven’t budgeted for’.
Regarding the ongoing protest Metropolitan Police said in a statement: ‘We are aware of a demonstration in Parliament Square and along Whitehall, #Westminster.
‘A policing plan is in place throughout the day. Officers, including units from our Mounted Branch, are on scene and are engaging with those taking part in this demonstration.’
Photos showed police attempting to contain a large group of covid sceptics in Parliament Square, as some protestor offered ‘free hugs’ to others without masks
Anti-lockdown protesters clash with police during a demonstration in Parliament Square Anti-lockdown protest, London
One protester holds an umbrella reading ‘No vaxx passports’ as groups gather in close proximity to protest covid restrictions
Asked whether he will bring forward ‘freedom day’, Mr Johnson said today: ‘As I say, the vaccination rollout is going gangbusters and loads of people are coming forward now for their second jabs.
‘Please come forward, get your second jab, and it is great that today we will have done all of JCVI one to nine, so everybody over 50 will have been offered two jabs as of today plus all care workers, all the vulnerable groups, huge numbers of people.
‘I think almost 60 per cent of adults in this country have now had or been offered two jabs so we are one of the most vaccinated countries in the world.
‘But look at the numbers of delta, the “Delta” variant, it is sadly going up still, it is going up by about 30 per cent a week in cases, hospitalisations up by roughly the same amount and so sadly ICU admissions into intensive care.
‘So we have got to be cautious but we will be following the data the whole time.’
A police man comes face to face with a maskless protestor at the Parliament Square anti-lockdown protest
Police push back a protestor as they form a line face to face with the maskless covid sceptics
Protestors demanding an end to all Covid restrictions held signs reading ‘your obedience is prolonging this nightmare’ and ‘our kids aren’t lab rats’ as they marched through the streets
There was no social distancing as protestors got close to police whilst blowing whistles at Parliament Square, London
Protestors are seen hugging as police try to contain the crowds – others linked arms to form a barricade
Others held placards reading ‘lockdown is a crime against humanity’, ‘pro liberty’, and ‘no more lockdowns’
The protest comes as Boris Johnson today poured cold water on the prospect of easing the remaining coronavirus rules early as he refused to rule out future lockdowns and warned the nation should brace for a ‘rough winter’
Mr Johnson said it is still ‘looking good’ for the July 19 date amid fears among some Tory MPs that the PM could again delay the lifting of the remaining curbs.
Last Monday another anti-lockdown protest outside Downing Street saw a police officer dragged away amid chaotic scenes as Laurence Fox and Piers Corbyn joined demonstrators demanding an end to all Covid restrictions.
Mr Fox, 43, was shown speaking with police while holding a copy of an anti-lockdown magazine, while Jeremy Corbyn’s 74-year-old brother held an anti-vax banner alongside protesters calling climate change a ‘con’ and complaining about the ‘New World Order’.
Police officers help an injured colleague during an anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protest in London, June 14
Laurence Fox, 43, was shown speaking with police while holding a copy of an anti-lockdown magazine during a protest against Covid restrictions, June 14
Piers Corbyn (right) held an anti-vaxxer banner alongside protesters calling climate change a ‘con’ and complaining about the ‘New World Order’
Demonstrators protest outside Downing Street against the delay in easing of lockdown restrictions on June 14
Other activists held signs calling for masks and testing to be scrapped, with others said ‘99.7% of people do not die’ and ‘the media is a virus’.
Social media messages showed the demonstration had been specifically planned to coincide with Mr Johnson’s announcement to the Commons about the fate of the opening plans for June 21.
Footage from the demonstration shows a female police officer being hauled away by her colleagues, as protesters scream ‘traitors’ and ‘it’s all right when it happens to one of us, isn’t it’.