36 arrested in London for protesting against curbs

At least 36 people were arrested as thousands of people marched through central London under a heavy police presence to protest against lockdown measures, a media report said.

The Metropolitan Police said 36 people had been arrested by 6.45 p.m. on Saturday, many for breaching Covid-19 regulations, Xinhua news agency quoted the report published by the Evening Standard newspaper on Sunday.

Thousands of people joined Saturday’s demonstration, which travelled from Hyde Park to St Paul’s Cathedral and back to Westminster ahead of the anniversary of the UK’s first lockdown which began on March 23, 2020.

It came after more than 60 British lawmakers and peers signed a letter warning that allowing the police to criminalise people for protesting “is not acceptable and is arguably not lawful”, said the newspaper.

Among those attending the march were actor Laurence Fox and Piers Corbyn, brother of the former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, according to the London-based newspaper.

Crowds that gathered in Trafalgar Square were dispersed, while other demonstrators returned to Hyde Park.

But police were met with more hostile responses there later in the evening, as protesters threw bottles and cans at them and some officers were later forced to run back to their vans, said the newspaper.

At about 7 p.m., a hundred police officers wearing riot helmets and carrying shields arrived at Hyde Park and urged people to go home, the Guardian newspaper reported.

On February 22, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his long-anticipated “roadmap” exiting the lockdown.

The March 8 reopening of schools was first part of the four-step plan which is expected to see all legal restrictions in England being removed by mid-June.

Other parts of Britain, including Wales and Norther Ireland, have also unveiled plans to ease the restrictions.

Experts have warned Britain is “still not out of the woods” amid concerns over new variants and the risks of the public breaching restriction rules.