UK: Former nurse arrested for taking her mother out of care home
Protests are no longer exempt under the UK-wide coronavirus lockdown that begins Thursday, and police plan to enforce that rule, unlike during the previous lockdown, according to UK media.
Demonstrations consisting of more than two people will be made expressly illegal under the second national lockdown, which is expected to take effect Thursday. Police allowed large protests, in particular for the Black Lives Matter movement, during the first lockdown even as individual British families were barred from getting together – a situation many found unfair.
A Home Office spokeswoman avoided ruling protests out completely, telling Yahoo News UK that “the right to peaceful protest is one of the cornerstones of our democracy,” but added that “any gathering risks spreading the disease, leading to more deaths, so it is vital we all play our part in controlling the virus.”
Police have reportedly received instruction from Home Secretary Priti Patel to break up any protest involving more than two people from Thursday on. However, a government source told The Times that protests would not explicitly be prohibited in the lockdown legislation which is scheduled to be voted on Wednesday and take effect the following day. Instead, the loophole that allowed protests while families were prevented from gathering will be closed.
Nevertheless, some officers fear that people will be more inclined to take to the streets because of the restrictions, as one police source told The Times, adding that “this is going to cause a lot of trouble.”
People are going to be extremely angry and there are concerns they’ll protest the fact they can’t protest.
News of a second lockdown has already triggered protests in the suburbs of London, where hundreds of people took to the streets over the weekend to denounce the proposed national shutdown. The demonstration was organized by the group StandUpX, which warns that the pandemic is being weaponized to permanently deprive UK residents of their freedoms. PM Boris Johnson has insisted this second national lockdown will end in December, though that is likely cold comfort to those who remember the original “two weeks to flatten the curve” that instead stretched on for months.
NHS England will move to its highest alert level from midnight tonight as its chief executive warned that strident measures are needed to prevent Covid cases “spiralling out of control” and swamping the health service.
There are currently more than 10,000 Covid-19 patients hospitalized across England, with almost 1,000 on ventilators, according to government data.
Hospitals could handle about 20,000 coronavirus patients before hitting full capacity, according to NHS England on Wednesday. The agency’s chief Sir Simon Stevens explained, however, that the country is currently dealing with “22 hospitals’ worth” of Covid-19 patients.
“We want to try and ensure that the health service is there for everybody, minimizing the disruption to the full range of care that we provide, not just Covid but cancer services, routine operations and mental health services.”
“And the truth, unfortunately, is that, if coronavirus takes off again, that will disrupt services,”.
The increased alert in the NHS comes as England is on the brink of a new four-week lockdown, under which all bars, restaurants, gyms and non-essential shops will be closed from November 5 to December 2.
MPs debated the new measures on Wednesday and approved them by 516 votes to 38, a majority of 478.
Health bosses see the measures as essential in trying to limit the spread of the virus and take the pressure off the health service, otherwise NHS England may have to start canceling non-urgent procedures.
The NHS England chief also said that pressures on the health system during the pandemic were not being experienced equally. Heightening the NHS England alert level seeks to address this problem, as it gives the organization centralized control over which hospitals receive Covid-19 patients.
A further 25,177 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the UK in the last 24 hours, according to government data released on Wednesday. Another 492 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus – an increase of 95 deaths compared to Tuesday’s figures.