- Hundreds of people gathered in London’s Hyde Park on Sunday to protest face mask requirements.
- Face masks are currently a requirement on public transportation in the UK, and will soon also be required for stores.
- The protest was reportedly organized by the group Keep Britain Free, which claimed face-covering requirements are comparable to human rights violations.
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Hundreds of protestors gather in London’s Hyde Park on Sunday to protest mask mandates in light of the coronavirus, The Evening Standard reported.
People gathered in the park beginning around 1 p.m. to listen to speeches at the march organized by a group called Keep Britain Free, the outlet reported.
According to the group’s website, they were “taking action” because they believe that the British government “has acted illegally and disproportionately over the COVID 19 lockdown.” The group objects to mask requirements, along with social distancing and businesses closing down, calling them human rights violations.
The CDC and other scientific organizations around the world recommend wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A study released in June found that masks reduce the risk of infection, and likely prevented thousands of cases.
In England, masks are currently required on public transportation, and as of July 24 they will also be required in all stores. Failing to wear a mask can result in a £100 fine.
Sky News reporter Ivor Bennett reported that while covering the rally and wearing a face mask, “two women with a baby accused me of pushing a government agenda designed to maintain order and keep the public living in fear.”
Many of the protestors incorporated messages of conspiracy theories into their signs, like the idea that Bill Gates or others created the coronavirus pandemic as a way to digitally track people.
Others incorporated anti-vaccine messaging. Some conspiracy theorists online have pledged not to get a coronavirus vaccine, which they believe could be a way to microchip and track people.
At least one attendee wore a shirt referencing the baseless theory linking 5g technology with the coronavirus. Supporters of the theory have even set telephone poles on fire and harassed engineers setting up the connectivity technology.
The UK is the third hardest-hit country by the novel coronavirus, CNN reported last week, and shares widespread pushback against face masks with the two worst-hit countries, India and the US.
Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the British science academy, the Royal Society, urged residents in a widely reported July 7 statement that “based on the growing body of evidence that wearing a mask will help protect others – and might even protect you.”
“The UK is way behind many countries in terms of wearing masks and clear policies and guidelines about mask wearing for the public,” Ramakrishnan said, asking citizens to consider covering their faces a key addition to social distancing and handwashing.