Europe

Anti-lockdown protesters demand end to lockdown on day lockdown ended

People have taken to the streets of London yet again to protest against coronavirus rules – despite today being the long-awaited Freedom Day.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered outside Parliament this morning and over lunchtime, but their message seemed to be unclear.

People have regularly taken part in protests against lockdowns and restrictions due to Covid-19 over the past 16 months, but now such arguments appear almost redundant as life can largely return to normal as of today.

Bottles were thrown at police officers who clashed with activists in the near 30-degree heat in London.

In one video a child sat on someone’s shoulders was narrowly missed being struck in the face with a bottle.

The crowd demanded the arrest of Boris Johnson on ‘crimes against humanity’ and shouted about vaccines.

They held signs declaring statements such as ‘leave our DNA alone’, ‘unity is freedom’ and ‘it’s not a pandemic, it’s an IQ test’.

Other people said they were protesting over the coronavirus fines and court orders handed out over the course of the pandemic.

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Police urged demonstrators to move out of the road in front of the Houses of Parliament as traffic was brought to a standstill.

The crowd chanted ‘shame on police’ and ‘arrest Boris Johnson’ as they moved up to the gates of the Palace of Westminster from Parliament Square.

A police officer was seen to putting a lock on a gate at the entrance to Parliament to stop anyone entering.

A statement on Twitter from the Metropolitan Police said: ‘We are responding to a demonstration in Parliament Square this afternoon.

‘A group have blocked the road which is causing traffic disruption. Officers are on scene, speaking with those taking part in the protest and looking to ease congestion as soon as possible.’

So-called ‘Freedom Day’ only applies to England, as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have each set out their own separate plans for easing restrictions.

Boris Johnson had planned to lift all restrictions from today but hopes of a complete return to normality have been dashed by the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, first identified in India.

Despite infections spiking above 40,000 a day, with warnings they could reach 200,000 this summer, the prime minister insisted ‘now is the right moment to proceed’ but ‘with caution’.

This means some measures, including those around travel and self-isolation, will remain in effect for the foreseeable future.

The PM will hold a press conference at 5pm today, from self-isolation, about how the country will move forward without restrictions while the virus is still in circulation.

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