03 November 2020
The UK's first lockdown and subsequent restrictions did not prevent huge protests being organised, most notably those for racial equality. In fact, an exemption in the English coronavirus regulations has allowed protests to take place where the organisers follow certain protocols intended to prevent the spread of the virus. The police have previously been accused of using the virus as a way to prevent protests from happening in the first place - but now, with the second lockdown looming, the government is set to remove the exemption for protests altogether.
Protest exemption set to be removed from England lockdown rules (The Guardian, link):
"Protections for protesters are set to be removed from the coronavirus rules under the second national lockdown, it has emerged, provoking anger from human rights groups and campaigners.
An exemption that permits protests to take place with additional conditions designed to mitigate the spread of the virus is expected to be omitted from fresh regulations being drawn up for the lockdown that will commence from this Thursday.
There have been a series of a high-profile protests since the pandemic erupted in the UK including demonstrations for racial equality led by the Black Lives Matter movement, racist counter-protests and marches against lockdown measures directed by conspiracy theorists and extremists.
While there will be no explicit ban on protests in the regulations, the removal of the exemption will render organising large-scale lawful protest almost impossible.
The expected move, first revealed by the Times, has been met with fierce criticism from campaigners and human rights groups."
On police action against protests earlier this year, see: The Police Are Using Coronavirus to Crack Down on Protest (Novara Media, link)
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