Anti-restriction protesters protest as London alert level rises for COVID

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Protesters opposing coronavirus restrictions march in London, England, October 17, 2020. REUTERS / Toby Melville reuters_tickers

This content was published on 17 October 2020 – 21:22

LONDON, Oct 17 (Reuters) – Protesters opposing the closures gathered in central London on Saturday, hours after the British capital went to the second-highest level of alert for COVID-19.

As a second wave of infections accelerates, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has stepped up local restrictions in parts of England where cases are on the rise, in hopes of protecting the economy by allowing less-affected regions to remain open.

Since midnight, London rose to “level 2” or “high risk”. This prohibits people from meeting someone outside their home or “bubble of support”, including friends or family who help care for children, in any indoor setting.

The rules also prohibit more than six people from gathering outside, though police decided not to enforce them when several thousand anti-lockdown activists marched down Oxford Street, one of the busiest shopping streets in the world in normal times.

The protesters see the COVID-19 restrictions as unnecessary and a violation of their human rights. Some oppose the use of masks and vaccines.

Some carried banners that read: “MY BODY IS MY CHOICE, NO MANDATORY MASKS.”

“There are a lot of things that can kill you, you know, it could happen any day,” protester Aragorn Kyley, 17, said. “It’s about living, not just surviving. We want to be able to enjoy our lives, not just be stuck at home.”

As of Saturday, 57% of the UK population lived under tighter COVID-19 restrictions.

However, scientists from the SAGE group that advises the government, and the main opponent, the Labor Party, want ministers to go further and impose a brief nationwide shutdown or so-called “circuit breaker” for the spread of the disease.

(Reporting by Natalie Thomas and Will Russell, Written by James Davey, Edited in Spanish by Manuel Farías)

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