Whitehall sources are suggesting that protests of more than two people are set to be banned during the month-long English lockdown that seems to be certain to start on Thursday. Government ministers have reasoned that the rules need to be clear and UNN’s Oliver Down understands that the Home Secretary Priti Patel briefed chief constables over the weekend to tell officers to enforce the rules.
The Home Secretary Priti Patel has come in for criticism as some feel that this move is too oppressive for a liberal society and sets a dangerous precedent. The barrister Adam Wagner has said that he understands that the government wanting to discourage marches but has warned that if protests were banned it could breach human rights.
In addition to this, a senior police officer has said: ‘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’.
A Home Office spokesman has said: ‘The right to peaceful protest is one of the cornerstones of our democracy. In these unprecedented circumstances, any gathering risks spreading the disease, leading to more deaths, so it is vital we all play our part in controlling the virus. People must follow the rules on meeting with others, which apply to all gatherings and therefore protests too’.