Sixteen people were arrested for violation coronavirus restrictions during an anti-lockdown protest in south-west London, Metropolitan Police said.
A crowd of around 30 marched through Clapham High Street on Saturday afternoon chanting ‘Take Back Your Freedom’ while being heckled by members of the public.
The demonstration took place after Mayor of London Sadiq Khan says ‘major incident’ as the spread of the coronavirus threatens to “overwhelm” hospitals in the capital.
The Met said 16 people have been arrested for alleged coronavirus regulatory violations and taken into custody.
Officers also issued 22 fixed penalty notices following the event.
Dozens of officers were deployed to Clapham Common in an attempt to contain the protest, which was organized by the StandupX group and began shortly after noon.
A woman shouted from her car: ‘There’s a pandemic going on, you fuck up’ as the maskless protesters marched east towards Stockwell, while another bystander called them idiots.
The small group of protesters 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% from the previous week.
Around eight out of 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.
Regarding the protest, the Met tweeted: “Gathering for the purpose of a protest is not a departure from the rules and those wishing to attend may face enforcement measures.”
Meanwhile, three people have been arrested on suspicion of breaking Covid-19 regulations during a separate protest in Bournemouth town center, Dorset Police have said.
At least seven fixed penalty notices were issued by officers during the event, the force added.
Dorset Police Chief James Vaughan said: “I condemn the actions of those selfish individuals who knowingly flouted lockdown restrictions to carry out this protest activity.
“Their reckless actions come at a time when our country faces its highest number of cases since the start of this pandemic.”