Police confronted protesters chanting ‘take your freedom back’ as they marched through Clapham on Saturday to call for opposition against national lockdown measures ordering people to stay at home.
The protest, organised by group StandupX, was attended by a few dozen people who marched from Clapham Common, in south London, and then down the high street, prompting car drivers to blare their horns.
After reaching the Argos store in Clapham, a video which was broadcast online showed brief scuffles between protesters and police as officers appeared to arrest one man. At least 10 officers could be seen surrounding the protesters.
Further scuffles then broke out outside a nearby Sainsbury’s store as officers made another arrest.
It comes after the Metropolitan Police warned its officers will take action against protesters and will fine them the first time they are caught flouting lockdown rules.
New lockdown measures ordering Britons to stay at home except for exercise and to go to work if they cannot work from home were imposed last week amid skyrocketing coronavirus infection and hospitalisation rates.
In an open letter, the force said it was ‘aware’ of groups looking to gather to protest.
The letter warned that officers would take ‘appropriate enforcement’ and said ‘we are still in the middle of a global pandemic’.
Police confronted protesters chanting ‘take your freedom back’ as they marched through Clapham on Saturday to call for opposition against national lockdown measures ordering people to stay at home
After reaching the Argos store in Clapham, a video which was broadcast online showed brief scuffles between protesters and police as officers appeared to arrest one man. At least 10 officers could be seen surrounding the protesters
The protest, organised by group StandupX, was attended by a few dozen people who marched from Clapham Common, in south London, and then down the high street, prompting car drivers to blare their horns
At Saturday’s anti-lockdown march, one woman shouted from her car at the protesters, ‘There’s a pandemic going on you t***s’, while another bystander shouted ‘idiots’.
At least six police vans were at the scene.
Anti-lockdown group StandUpX announced the demonstration online on Friday.
They said on Twitter: ‘LETS MARCH TOMORROW 9TH JAN IN THE THOUSANDS 12PM CLAPHAM COMMON.
‘If you’re fed up of lockdowns, new legislations, 97% false positive RTCPR tests, admitted exaggerated death figures, losing your business, extended hospital appointments then march with us tomorrow.’
The Met’s open letter which warned Londoners about avoiding any protests, read: ‘The MPS strongly advises people not to attend any gathering, for the protection of yourselves and others.
‘We are still in the middle of a global pandemic.’
The statement added: ‘Police officers will take appropriate enforcement action where necessary.
This man was pictured smiling as his arms were held by two officers in Clapham at the protest on Saturday
Police confronted protesters chanting ‘take your freedom back’ as they marched through Clapham on Saturday to call for opposition against national lockdown measures ordering people to stay at home. Pictured: The police were pictured and making an arrest
New lockdown measures ordering Britons to stay at home except for exercise and to go to work if they cannot work from home were imposed last week amid skyrocketing coronavirus infection and hospitalisation rates
At Saturday’s anti-lockdown march, one woman shouted from her car at the protesters, ‘There’s a pandemic going on you t***s’, while another bystander shouted ‘idiots’
This man was pictured being arrested by officers during the anti-lockdown protest in Clapham, south London, on Saturday
At least six police vans were at the scene. Anti-lockdown group StandUpX announced the demonstration online on Friday
What is a ‘reasonable excuse’ for leaving home?
You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This will be put in law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).
You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
A ‘reasonable excuse’ includes:
- Work – you can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home
- Volunteering – you can also leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services
- Essential activities – you can leave home to buy things at shops or obtain services. You may also leave your home to do these things on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating
- Education and childcare – you can only leave home for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children where they are eligible to attend.
- Meeting others and care – you can leave home to visit people in your support bubble ( if you are legally permitted to form one), to provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble (for example, to enable parents to work), to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people
- Exercise – you can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble, limited to once per day, and not outside your local area
- Medical reasons – you can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies
- Harm and compassionate visits – you can leave home to be with someone who is giving birth, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse).
- You can also leave home to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment
- Animal welfare reasons – you can leave home for animal welfare reasons, such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment
- Communal worship and life events – You can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship, a funeral or event related to a death, a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding ceremony.
There are further reasonable excuses. For example, you may leave home to fulfil legal obligations or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property, or where it is reasonably necessary for voting in an election or referendum.
‘It is your responsibility to check the current position and ensure you are not committing an offence by being involved in a gathering.
‘We urge anyone arranging a gathering to inform your local police.’
Police recently have faced criticism that they were taking the lockdown crackdown too far by threatening to fine people £200 for playing in the snow.
Officers elsewhere swooped on two friends for driving just seven miles to for a walk at a beauty spot.
The Broseley and Much Wenlock division of West Mercia Police tweeted on Thursday: ‘There have been two reports of snowballs being thrown last night between 11 and 11.30pm.
‘This is obviously not a justifiable reason to be out of your house, this behaviour is likely to result in a £200 Fixed Penalty Notice for breaking the lockdown rules.’
Meanwhile, Derbyshire Police fined beautician Jessica Allen and her British Airways flight attendant friend Eliza Moore £200 each for driving for a socially distanced stroll at Foremark Reservoir, which despite not being her nearest park is only 10 minutes from her house.
And the Government on Friday launched a new campaign blitz to scare people into obeying lockdown rules.
England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has appeared in adverts urging us to stay at home as the new variant of the virus rips across the country.
Two terrifying new posters also show a patient dying in hospital and a healthcare worker wearing full PPE, warning Britons: ‘If you go out, you can spread it. People will die.’
Police warned they will fine people the first time they are caught not wearing face coverings or being outside without a good reason.
Scotland Yard said they would stop ordinary Britons in the street and question why they’re not in their homes.
Anyone who cannot give a reasonable excuse will be fined up to £6,400 and people caught without a face covering in necessary areas will be hit with a penalty notice on the spot.
On Wednesday, police arrested 28 protesters for flouting restrictions, fined four friends £800 for travelling in the same car to McDonald’s and policemen pulled over motorists to check where they were going.
On Friday, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan declared a ‘major incident’ in the capital because of the rapid spread of Covid-19, which is threatening to overwhelm hospitals.
Jessica Allen and her British Airways flight attendant friend Eliza Moore were fined last week for going on a socially-distanced walk together.
Ms Allen, 27, said she assumed ‘someone had been murdered’ when she saw a police van, a police car and several officers at the entrance of the open space.
‘It was a short journey and only took about ten minutes,’ she said. I genuinely thought someone had been murdered or a child had gone missing; the place is normally so quiet.
‘The next thing, my car is surrounded. I got out of my car thinking ”There’s no way they’re coming to speak to us”.
Straight away they start questioning us. One of them started reading my rights and I was looking at my friend thinking ”This must be a joke”.
‘I said we had come in separate cars, even parked two spaces away and even brought our own drinks with us. He said ”You can’t do that as it’s classed as a picnic”.
‘Crossing into a different county seems to have caused the issue but the border into Derbyshire is only a minute away from my house.’
Police were filmed and pictured pushing a man against the all of an Argos store as they arrested him
This female officer was pictured running down the street towards protesters in Clapham
This man was pictured shouting out as he was arrested outside a Sainsbury’s store
Ms Moore, who is 27 and alongside her work for BA runs a make-up business, said she was ‘stunned at the time’ so did not challenge police and gave her details so they could send a fixed penalty notice.
‘Just seeing a police officer anyway is quite scary for some people and we were really not expecting to be approached and to be told we were doing something wrong,’ she said.
‘We don’t want to get away with it if we have broken the rule, but it seems a bit unfair that you can be fined on something that’s so vague.’
The pair were also told their cups of Starbucks peppermint tea, which they bought at a drive-thru, were not allowed because they were ‘classed as a picnic’.
Guidance for the current lockdown says people can travel for exercise ‘as long as it is in their local area’, but does not specify how far people can travel.
Derbyshire Police insisted the distance was ‘at the discretion’ of individual officers and the trip was ‘not in the spirit of the rules’.
The force has previously been criticised for its heavy-handed approach to enforcing the restrictions, and in March released drone footage of dog walkers in the Peak District in an attempt to ‘shame’ them.
And in March, the force dumped black dye into a famous blue lagoon in Harpur Hill near Buxton to prevent Instagrammers from posing for snaps during the lockdown.
In Aberdeen last week, two policeman knocked on a family’s front door after complaints from a neighbour and stormed inside as a woman shouted ‘this is my house, get out of my house’ and children screamed in the background.
Two women, aged 18 and 48, and a 43-year-old man were charged in connection with assaulting police officers and threatening and abusive behaviour.
The footage immediately sparked controversy, with critics accusing the police of ‘oppressive’ behaviour for storming into a private house – while others argued they were just trying to enforce the Covid rules.
At Euston, officers were seen stopping passengers to ask where they were going. Barrister Alex Wright tweeted: ‘Good to see lockdown being taken seriously, but a sad sight that I’d have dreamed of seeing in London.’
Snowdonia National Park has now closed all its car parks to visitors to ‘protect our communities and the NHS’, as officials slammed the public for ‘disregarding’ the law.
In an attempt to clarify the guidance, Leicester City Council’s public health director Professor Ivan Browne today urged residents to visit ‘your nearest park, not your nicest park’, Leicester Live reported.