London Covid-19 protests turn violent

Scuffles break out at anti-lockdown protest in Parliament Square as thousands of protestors opposed to vaccine passports and Plan B rules clash with police while ministers consider more restrictions

  • Hundreds of anti-vaccine demonstrators congregated around Whitehall, Downing Street and Westminster
  • A group called Together Declaration claimed responsibility for Saturday’s protest against vaccine passports
  • Some of the demonstrators were involved in scuffles with police officers, who reported ‘minor injuries’
  • Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will announce Dutch lockdown during a press conference at 7pm tonight 

A large group of people opposed to Covid-19 restrictions gathered in Westminster to demonstrate against Boris Johnson’s Plan B announcement. 

A handful of Met Police officers suffered ‘minor injuries’ while attempting to escort a police motorcyclist through Parliament Square at around 12.30pm on Saturday.  

Video footage of the incident shows antagonistic protesters remonstrating with police. 

As well as Plan B, the demonstrators are opposed to the possible introduction of vaccine passports and the future imposition of a more restrictive Plan C.  

Later in the afternoon, at around 3pm, another crowd of protestors stopped on Regent Street where they began abusing people inside and hurling eggs at the property, police said. 

Officers remain in the area to ‘monitor the situation’. No arrests have been made. 

Anti-vaccination protestors let off flares as they demonstrate in Whitehall near Downing Street in London on Saturday

Hundreds of maskless demonstrators were armed with signs and placards dissuading others from taking the vaccine

Police watch on as hundreds of anti-vaccine protestors gathered to demonstrate against further curbs on our everyday lives 

Anti vaccine protesters congregated in London’s Parliament Square, including this man who appears to be wearing a police hat

Demonstrators, most of whom were not wearing face masks, gathered to object to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions 

Police were involved in scuffles as some of the demonstrators tried to push through police lines

Unmasked protestors were heard screaming ‘shame on you!’ and chanting ‘Freedom’ as they marched through Parliament Square this afternoon. 

Others were pictured gathering in large crowds and armed with placards and signs that read ‘No to vaccine passports’. 

Yesterday, almost 100,000 people were confirmed in a laboratory to have contracted Covid-19. In London, more than 60 per cent of those testing positive were identified as having the Omicron Variant. 

The demonstration was organised by the Together Declaration who said: ‘We represent more than 200 organisations, business groups, campaigners and professionals who have come together because we are gravely concerned about where the introduction of vaccine passports could lead.

‘In the UK, we enjoy many hard-won liberties and rights, all fought for and defended by our ancestors. These rights are not only fundamental to our understanding of democracy, they are rights we believe all humans should have.’ 

As well as vaccine passports, the group are opposed to digital ID cards.    

The group said: ‘Being ordered to produce medical certification at pubs, clubs, theatres, on public transport, at schools, universities, or anywhere else, is unwarranted and risks deepening the inequalities already present within our society.’

While demonstrators gathered around Westminster, Oxford Street was unusually quiet on the last Saturday before Christmas week. 

Concerns over the soaring rates of Covid-19 driven by the spread of Omicron variant are keeping many shoppers away from central London on what is usually the busiest weekend of pre-Christmas trading. 

While online sales are booming and retail parks that can be reached by car have been busy, city centres have seen a marked drop in footfall, according to trade groups including the British Retail Consortium.

Its chief executive Helen Dickinson said: ‘The rise of the Omicron variant, combined with the Government’s work-from-home advice, has resulted in fewer people visiting shops and high streets, particularly in large city centres.

‘There has already been a gargantuan effort to ensure that essential food and gifts are ready for the festive season, despite ongoing challenges in the supply chain.

‘We are confident it can be a great Christmas for consumers, and retailers are pulling out the stops to keep staff and customers as safe as possible during these difficult times.’

Outlets in London’s West End are unlikely to see a last-minute spending rush this weekend, according to the New West End Company, which represents retailers, restaurants and businesses in the area.

In Italy, hundreds of protestors attended a ‘No Green Pass’ rally in Turin (pictured) after The Democratic Party’s government introduced compulsory vaccine passes to enter all public and private workplaces

Maskless protestors, both young and old, chanted and waved the national flag in demonstrations against the ‘Green Pass’ in Turin

A protestor dressed as Santa Claus holds aloft a sign reading: ‘We are not lab mice, we are children’ outside a protest in Turin, Italy 

On Thursday, the most recent data available, customer traffic around Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street dipped by seven percentage points from the previous week, and was 32 percentage points below the same day in 2019. 

Scotland Yard told MailOnline: ‘Officers are deployed in central London to ensure a planned demonstration takes place safely and with minimal disruption to the general public.

‘We are aware of videos shared online showing a minor scuffle in Parliament Square. At around 12:30hrs, protestors attempted to stop a group of officers who were escorting a police motorcyclist through crowds that had occupied a road. Some officers suffered minor injuries but order was quickly restored.

‘Shortly before 15:00hrs, having made their way to Regent Street, a group of protestors stopped outside a shop and began directing abuse towards those inside.

‘Eggs were thrown at windows but no injuries were reported. Officers quickly intervened and calm was restored without further incident.

‘The demonstration has moved on and officers will continue to monitor it closely. At this stage, there have been no arrests.’

It comes as European nations also saw major protests on Saturday, with some opting for a return of draconian restrictions banning indoor mixing setting curfews for some non-essential retailers. 

In Italy, hundreds of protestors attended a ‘No Green Pass’ rally in Turin after The Democratic Party’s government introduced compulsory vaccine passes to enter all public and private workplaces.

The Netherlands is set to announce a new lockdown today with tough anti-Covid measures after the European Commission chief said everyone entering the EU should get PCR tests.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will introduce the measures during a press conference at 7pm alongside health minister Hugo de Jonge and Jaap van Dissel, head of the public health institute RIVM, reported broadcaster NOS.

The country introduced a partial lockdown on November 28, restricting social gatherings to 13 people and imposing a 5pm curfew on bars, restaurants, cinemas and sports venues. Essential shops such as supermarkets must close at 8pm.

Riots broke out in Rotterdam when the restrictions were first announced, with police opening fire on anti-lockdown protests against the restrictions.

Ministers met this morning with regional safety board bosses and are expected to finalise the new plans this afternoon.

Previously, the Dutch Government’s Outbreak Management Team advised the complete closure of non-essential stores alongside schools, gyms, cafes, museums and cinemas.

Although Covid cases dropped in the Netherlands after it imposed restrictions last month, only 1.5million people have received a booster jab after it became one of the last countries in Europe to launch its drive.

Meanwhile, in Brussels on Thursday, Ms von der Leyen asked EU leaders to reintroduce tests, both pre-departure and on arrival.

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