The ban on protests across the UK is set to be lifted when the country eases its lockdown restrictions next week (March 29).
The news comes in the wake of last night’s (March 22) ‘Kill The Bill’ protests in Bristol, which saw protestors clashing with police.
Crowds gathered on Sunday (March 21) at Bristol’s College Green to demonstrate against a new policing bill passed last week that could see police given new powers to shut down peaceful protests, before they marched to a nearby police station.
Protestors then began a sit-down protest outside a nearby police station, but it later descended into ugly scenes as many clashed with riot police who were deployed to control the crowds.
Mass outdoor gatherings are banned in the UK under COVID-19 restrictions, but new legislation published today (March 22) confirms that once the restrictions are relaxed next week, demonstrations will be exempt from the continued ban on large-scale gatherings.
Per the legislation, protests will be permitted as long as they are “organised by a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution, a public body or a political body, and the gathering organiser takes the required precautions in relation to the gathering”.
Last month, Boris Johnson detailed the UK’s roadmap out of lockdown, revealing that up to six people or two households will be allowed to meet outdoors from March 29. Rules will also be relaxed, allowing people to sit down for a drink or picnic rather than the current requirement of exercising together.
Further down the roadmap, the government will “aim to remove all legal limits on social contact” by June 21. Before that, outdoor hospitality, such as pubs and outdoor dining, could reopen on April 12, with indoor hospitality following on May 17.
In the wake of the new policing bill being passed, Thom Yorke and Lily Allen are were among a host of musicians to have criticised the controversial new bill.
The new bill proposes tougher crackdowns on public protests, including a 10-year jail sentence for defacing public statues and more powers for police to shut down peaceful protests.