Around 100 people have gathered in Hyde Park today to protest against face coverings becoming mandatory in shops next week.
The rules are already in place in Scotland, with England due to follow suit on July 24. From that date, anyone not wearing a mask inside a store can be asked to leave or made to pay a £100 fine by the police.
Those attending the demonstration could be seen wearing masks cut up to expose their mouths and carrying placards that read: ‘I will not be masked, tested, tracked or poisoned. This will not be my new normal’.
One man was photographed wearing a white t-shirt that said: ‘Save human rights, no to 5G, no to vaccinations’, while another woman had the words ‘question everything’ emblazoned on the front of her top.
Appearing on Sky News, Leah Butler-Smith, one of the protest organisers, explained that she wasn’t against face masks in general, but did not like the government telling people ‘they have no choice but to wear one’.
She went on: ‘Because the government started out by saying there was absolutely no way there was any need for a mask, and many other independent scientists have repeatedly said the same, then it didn’t make sense why they were suddenly going to be mandated – but only in some places.
‘Shop workers who are being exposed to the public all the time don’t have to wear them but the person going into the shop is expected to wear it. It just doesn’t make any sense. You can be in the same venue and be told not wear it and then told to.’
Ms Butler-Smith then accused the government of trying to ‘deliberately frighten people’ and she said she thought ministers ‘absolutely’ had an ulterior motive to making masks compulsory.
She continued: ‘I believe because they have spent an enormous amount of money on the vaccine
programme already, which has already been tested in other countries, that they don’t want to waste that money by people choosing not to take up the vaccine
because they’ve decided that actually, the virus has passed through the community and now, unless you’re very at risk, you’re just as safe as you would be if it were a normal flu.’
Ms Butler-Smith is part of Keep Britain Free, an online campaign which claims the government is in ‘contravention of basic Human Rights’ after forcing businesses to close and people to stay home during the coronavirus
The group believes that ‘every aspect’ of UK life is now being ‘controlled by draconian rules and regulations’, with Brits told ‘how many friends we can have; whose houses we can visit; where we can travel – even what to think’.
Their demonstration comes after the Health Secretary confirmed the new rules surrounding face asks in shops this week, telling the public: ‘We cannot let our progress today lead to complacency tomorrow’.
Stating that face coverings will ‘increase confidence in people to shop’, Matt Hancock went on: ‘Sales assistants, cashiers and security guards have suffered disproportionately in this crisis.
‘The death rate of sales and retail assistants is 75% higher amongst men and 60% higher amongst women than in the general population.’