Holding signs reading “Freedom is non-negotiable” and “No health passports,” the demonstrators gathered in the capital on Saturday.
Billed by its organizers as the “biggest street party London has ever seen,” the rally drew thousands of participants unhappy with the lingering restrictions on gatherings and movement, and opposed to the government’s vague plans to introduce so-called ‘vaccine passports’.
Actor and mayoral candidate Laurence Fox, who has promised to do away with COVID-19 restrictions entirely if elected, was an enthusiastic participant. Posting videos of hordes of people marching through the streets, he decried the “total corruptstream media blackout” of the protest.
There may be 50 or so now. pic.twitter.com/8zuv8juU8G
— Laurence Fox 🥛 (@LozzaFox) April 24, 2021
As of mid-afternoon, the mood seemed jovial.
Though gatherings of such a large scale are still forbidden under the UK’s lockdown rules, the mostly maskless crowd marched freely through the city.
🔴LIVE: Large crowd marching streets of London
Anti Lockdown Protest | Hyde Park
Watch now: https://t.co/1Bu5ccj3dd#LondonProtest #LIVE #Livestream #London #Freedom #HydePark #Protest #Police #AntiLockdownProtest #AntiLockdown pic.twitter.com/mPerMpe4qE
— Subject Access (@SubjectAccesss) April 24, 2021
— Gillian McKeith (@GillianMcKeith) April 24, 2021
Unlike protests by climate activists over the preceding days, Saturday’s march was largely ignored by the mainstream media, with only a handful of British tabloids dedicating short stories to the demonstration.
The protesters themselves accused the media of ignoring “hundreds of thousands” of marchers and their demands.
However, nailing down a more accurate attendance figure than “thousands” was not immediately possible.
Why aren’t the mainstream media giving the anti-lockdown protest march in London any significant overage? Oxford Street has hundreds of thousands of people marching. It’s enormous.#londonprotest pic.twitter.com/h7Cimc3BrX
— James Melville 🌸 (@JamesMelville) April 24, 2021
— Damien Gayle (@damiengayle) April 24, 2021
The UK’s current lockdown strategy will all but end by late June, “unless a surge in infections or new variants of the coronavirus triggers a change of plan”.
As of Saturday morning, more than 38 million people in England have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and government researchers noted on Friday that infections have fallen to such an extent that Britain has “moved from a pandemic to an endemic situation.”