Five people have been arrested following an anti-lockdown protest in south-west London, the Metropolitan Police said.
A crowd of about 30 people marched down Clapham High Street on Saturday afternoon chanting “take your freedom back” while being heckled by members of the public.
The protest took place after London mayor Sadiq Khan declared a “major incident” as the spread of coronavirus threatens to “overwhelm” the capital’s hospitals.
1/2 – **UPDATE** 12 people have been arrested for breaching Covid regs at a protest in #ClaphamCommon for today.— Metropolitan Police Events (@MetPoliceEvents) January 9, 2021
All have been taken into custody.
The Met said five people were arrested, with some detained on suspicion of breaching coronavirus restrictions.
Dozens of officers were deployed to Clapham Common to try and contain the protest, which was organised by the group StandupX and began shortly after midday.
One woman shouted from her car: “There’s a pandemic going on, you twats” as the maskless protesters headed east towards Stockwell, while another bystander called them idiots.
The small group of demonstrators eventually returned to Clapham Common park before being dispersed by police.
NHS England figures showed the number of Covid patients in London hospitals stands at 7,277, up 32% on the previous week.
Around eight in 10 recent positive cases of Covid-19 in London and eastern England could be the new variant discovered in the UK, according to the ONS.
The Met tweeted: “Five people have been arrested during an anti-lockdown protest in Clapham Common today.
“Gathering for the purpose of a protest is not an exemption to the rules. Those looking to gather today are urged to stay at home, or face enforcement action by officers.”