Thousands of anti-maskers who believe pandemic is a HOAX march against lockdown in London 

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Thousands of people who believe coronavirus is a hoax have gathered in London‘s Trafalgar Square to protest against lockdown restrictions and vaccination programmes.

The ‘Unite for Freedom’ rally started at noon in the capital and calls for an ‘end to Government lies’ and the restoration of all freedoms.

Pictures from the demonstration show a large crowd gathered in the square – none of whom are wearing masks – holding signs that brand the pandemic as a ‘hoax’.

Other signs claimed masks reduce immunity and likened the restrictions to ‘child torture’. 

One person held a homemade placard on which he had scrawled ‘no to mandatory vaccines.’

The event is set to march past Downing Street towards the Houses of Parliament where speakers are expected to address the crowd. 

Video from the scene shows organisers address the cheering crowd and label the government as ‘terrorists who are waging a war on the people of this country’. 

One man says: ‘This is a political agenda to commit mass genocide on the population. That is their agenda.’ 

Huge crowd of anti-vaxxers who say pandemic is a ‘New World Order’ HOAX join Jeremy Corbyn’s brother and David Icke in Trafalgar Square before marching on the Houses of Parliament where speakers are expected to address the crowds

The large crowd gathered to protest the government's coronavirus restrictions in Trafalgar Square this afternoon

The large crowd gathered to protest the government’s coronavirus restrictions in Trafalgar Square this afternoon

Thousands of demonstrators have gathered in London's Trafalgar Square to protest against Covid-19 lockdown restrictions

Thousands of demonstrators have gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square to protest against Covid-19 lockdown restrictions

An estimated 10,000 people attend the demonstration against coronavirus restrictions in Trafalgar Square this afternoon

An estimated 10,000 people attend the demonstration against coronavirus restrictions in Trafalgar Square this afternoon

Those in attendance believe the pandemic is a hoax and dozens held signs criticising the government's measures

Those in attendance believe the pandemic is a hoax and dozens held signs criticising the government’s measures

Different conspiracy theory groups were in attendance and urged others to distrust the government in London

Different conspiracy theory groups were in attendance and urged others to distrust the government in London

The demonstration featured speakers and lecturers talking about their campaign to urge the government to ease restrictions

The demonstration featured speakers and lecturers talking about their campaign to urge the government to ease restrictions

The gathering in Trafalgar Square is one of several demonstrations taking place across the world with others in Berlin

The gathering in Trafalgar Square is one of several demonstrations taking place across the world with others in Berlin

Who is David Icke? The conspiracy theorist who once claimed he was the son of God 

David Icke is the notorious conspiracy theorist who often makes headlines for his controversial comments.

The 52-year-old former professional footballer has written more than 20 books and once tried his hand at punditry and sports reporting.

In 1991, he appeared on Sir Terry Wogan’s TV chat show where he declared himself as the son of God in a now-infamous clip which he describes as a ‘defining moment’.

It was from here that he began writing his books and making bold predictions including that the world would end in 1997.

Other bizarre claims he have made include that the royal family are lizards and that climate change is a hoax. 

 Most recently, he has suggested the coronavirus is linked to the 5G mobile network.

A poster advertising the event read: ‘Nothing is more important as time is very short – the Government are voting for a two-year extension of their emergency Covid-19 powers in September 2020.

‘The first six months was a disaster – this must not be allowed to continue! We have to take a stand.’

It lists its priorities as ‘no more lockdowns, no social distancing, no masks. No track and trace, no health passports. No mandatory vaccinations, no ‘new normal’. Restore all human rights that have been violated.’

The poster lists ‘top world class doctors and nurses speaking out with real truth on Covid-19 against GMC constraints’.

Sonia Poulton, who was part of the protest, shared a video to Twitter to urge people to attend.

She said: ‘People are coming today to make their voices heard against mandatory vaccinations, mandatory masks, mandatory anything really. No more lockdowns, no more second wave business’. 

It is understood Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers and conspiracy theorist David Icke are both set to make an appearance.

Icke, who is reportedly set to speak at 3pm outside the Houses of Parliament, hit headlines in May after he made controversial unproven claims about the virus on several internet platforms, including one that it is linked to the 5G mobile network.

Both YouTube and Facebook deleted his accounts citing violation of their respective policies in relation to disputing the existence of Covid-19.

In April, Icke landed London Live with a sanction from regulator Ofcom after the outlet aired an interview with the former footballer.

In the interview, Icke aired unsubstantiated theories about the virus and suggested mandatory vaccination would be ‘fascism’.

Ofcom said it was ‘particularly concerned’ by Icke ‘casting doubt on the motives behind official health advice to protect the public from the virus’.

‘These claims went largely unchallenged during the 80-minute interview and were made without the support of any scientific or other evidence.’ 

Anti-mask protesters are seen at the Unite for Freedom protest in Trafalgar Square, London, this afternoon

Anti-mask protesters are seen at the Unite for Freedom protest in Trafalgar Square, London, this afternoon

Protesters gathered in a bid to urge the government to ease the lockdown restrictions and abandon their emergency powers

Protesters gathered in a bid to urge the government to ease the lockdown restrictions and abandon their emergency powers

Many of those in attendance argue the restrictions put in place during the pandemic are a violation of human rights

Many of those in attendance argue the restrictions put in place during the pandemic are a violation of human rights

None of the demonstrators in attendance in London were wearing masks or practising social distancing this afternoon

None of the demonstrators in attendance in London were wearing masks or practising social distancing this afternoon

Police officers, who were wearing masks, were in attendance to keep the peace as thousands gathered in the capital city

Police officers, who were wearing masks, were in attendance to keep the peace as thousands gathered in the capital city

The protesters say they are part of the Unite for Freedom movement and the demonstration is one of several across the world

The protesters say they are part of the Unite for Freedom movement and the demonstration is one of several across the world

Anti-maskers believe the government's restrictions and rules in place to prevent the spread of the virus are a violation

Anti-maskers believe the government’s restrictions and rules in place to prevent the spread of the virus are a violation

Many in the crowd claimed pandemic was a hoax and spread anti-Government messages on signs while listening to speakers

Many in the crowd claimed pandemic was a hoax and spread anti-Government messages on signs while listening to speakers

Some called for the UK to be like Sweden, who has not seen the same level of restrictions put in place as the United Kingdom

Some called for the UK to be like Sweden, who has not seen the same level of restrictions put in place as the United Kingdom

The demonstration is one of several taking place around the world under the Unite for Freedom banner.

Berlin police on Saturday disbanded a mass protest in the German capital against coronavirus curbs a few hours after it had begun after marchers failed to heed their orders to keep their distance and wear masks.

The protest came as infections rise across Europe, with similar protests during the day in Paris and elsewhere.

In Denmark, protesters take part in a demonstration against the use of face masks and other Covid-19 related restrictions near the Danish parliament building Christiansborg in Copenhagen. 

Across Europe, countries including France, Spain and Italy continue to see increases in the number of coronavirus cases.

Yesterday France added 5,429 cases overnight, government figures showed, marking the country’s largest single-day increase since April 14, and the third-largest daily rise since the pandemic began.

Meanwhile Italy, which had some of the lowest case totals in Europe after reopening its economy, registered 1,367 cases – its largest rise since May.

Spain registered another 7,296 cases, enough to push the country above the US – the world’s worst-affected nation – in number of cases per million inhabitants, based on a seven-day rolling average.

The latest figures show the pandemic has killed at least 842,000 people worldwide since surfacing in China late last year.

In the UK, more than 331,644 people have been infected and 41,486 people have lost their lives to the virus. 

People gather at the Victory Column as they attend a protest rally in Berlin, Germany, demonstrating against Covid measures

People gather at the Victory Column as they attend a protest rally in Berlin, Germany, demonstrating against Covid measures

Protesters take part in a demonstration against the use of face masks and other Covid-19 related restrictions at the Danish parliament building Christiansborg, in Copenhagen, Denmark, at the same time as protesters gathered in London

Protesters take part in a demonstration against the use of face masks and other Covid-19 related restrictions at the Danish parliament building Christiansborg, in Copenhagen, Denmark, at the same time as protesters gathered in London

A protester drinks from a bottle as he wears a hat with a Danish flag and a placard reading 'Revolutions news' at a demonstration against the use of face masks and other Covid-19 related restrictions near the Danish parliament building

A protester drinks from a bottle as he wears a hat with a Danish flag and a placard reading ‘Revolutions news’ at a demonstration against the use of face masks and other Covid-19 related restrictions near the Danish parliament building

Matt Hancock warns the UK could go back into nationwide lockdown this winter as SAGE ‘worst case scenario’ plans for 81,000 deaths – but experts slam the alarming model for being ‘implausible’ 

Nationwide restrictions cannot be ruled out should England see a spike in coronavirus cases this winter, the Health Secretary has warned.

Matt Hancock also hinted that restrictions may not be eased over Christmas to avoid an ‘uptick’ in the number of Covid-19 cases.

Mr Hancock said countries in others parts of the world were already experiencing a second wave, adding it was ‘a very serious threat’.

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood said ‘draconian action’ could be needed if the public do not stick to social distancing rules, hinting the Government could take stronger action than local lockdowns. 

It comes as SAGE – the government’s advisory group on scientific emergencies – has estimated up to 81,000 people could die from Covid-19 this winter in the very worst case scenario.

The scientists warned the figure was ‘a scenario and not a prediction’ that under the worst possible conditions there could be 81,000 deaths from Covid in England and Wales. In that scenario the fatality rate would be 0.7%.

Carl Heneghan, from Oxford University, told the BBC that the model was ‘implausible’ and that it assumed that ‘we’ve learnt nothing from the first wave of this disease’. 

The government told the broadcaster that its plans were under constant review, and were driven by the latest scientific advice.

Matt Hancock (pictured) said countries in others parts of the world were already experiencing a second wave, adding it was 'a very serious threat'

Matt Hancock (pictured) said countries in others parts of the world were already experiencing a second wave, adding it was ‘a very serious threat’

At the start of the outbreak it was forecast that up to 500,000 Britons could be killed by the virus, the current death toll stands at 41,486. 

But Mr Hancock said the UK was managing to keep the number of new cases ‘flat’ through the test and trace system and local lockdowns.

Describing the worst-case scenario, he said the UK could be battling bad flu and a growth in coronavirus as people spend more time indoors.

He continued: ‘Cases go up again, and we have to use very extensive local lockdowns or take further national action.

‘We don’t rule that out, but we don’t want to see it.’

His comments come as local Covid-19 restrictions were eased in northern England, which will allow social gatherings between two homes from Wednesday in Bolton, Stockport, Trafford, Burnley, Hyndburn and parts of Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.

Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood warned the public that stricter measures could be imposed.

He told Times Radio: ‘It’s an enduring emergency and until a vaccine turns up there is a national resolve, there is a responsibility, a duty of every individual… also the Government needs to keep the nation safe and that’s where Matt Hancock’s work comes in and then Rishi Sunak needs to make sure the economy is working.

‘If the nation, if individuals aren’t following the rules then ultimately… we cannot break the chain of spread and therefore draconian action is required to take place.

‘We’d prefer it to be local but absolutely, if that R-rating does go too high, this is a warning for every single listener: ensure that you do socially distance so we can actually contain it.

‘This is an enduring emergency, I repeat. Until there’s a vaccine this is the new normal that we’ve got to get used to.’

Mr Hancock told The Times a second wave could be ‘avoidable but it’s not easy’, with schools reopening next week presenting new challenges in stopping the spread of the virus.

In an interview with ITV News, Mr Hancock said: ‘We’re doing a huge amount of planning to make sure that the NHS is prepared and can cope to make sure that people can have as much freedom to enjoy Christmas, to enjoy winter, as possible.’

But when asked whether there will be special rules to allow more people to visit one another over Christmas, Mr Hancock suggested it could lead to a rise in the number of people catching the virus.

‘The danger of a rule like that is that it increases the spread of the disease,’ he said.

‘I mean, there are an awful lot of things I’d love to be able to do, but the risk of them is that we see an uptick in the disease.

‘Hence, we’ve had to take decisions that you wouldn’t ever want to.’

On vaccines, the Health Secretary said there is potential for it to be available this year, but that it is more likely next year.

He continued: ‘It’s a very difficult science, it’s thankfully one that our scientists are up to, and each sign at the moment is going well and going in the right direction.

‘But we don’t want to raise people’s hopes too much.’

The Government is responding to ‘an increase in anti-vax messages and anti-test messages’, he said, with a programme under way to tackle ‘these sorts of conspiracy theories’ which he branded as ‘wrong’.

When asked about the Government’s U-turns on a number of policies recently, Mr Hancock said he believed people would have been ‘really cross’ if they did not happen.

‘We’re dealing with a crisis that is entirely unprecedented,’ he responded.

‘We’re dealing with a disease that didn’t even exist, as far as we know, before December last year.

‘And so, we’re taking decisions guided by the science on it.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that schools were safe to attend as he encouraged every pupil to return to the classroom

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that schools were safe to attend as he encouraged every pupil to return to the classroom

‘I think people would, what people would get really cross about, is if a government refuse to change even if evidence came up that there was a better option.’

Meanwhile, BBC2’s Newsnight reported that a ‘reasonable worse case planning assumption’ presented to the Government said there could be up to 85,000 excess deaths directly attributed to Covid-19 between July and next March across the UK, with 81,000 in England and Wales.

The broadcaster said the figures were in a document signed off by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) for the Cabinet Office at the end of July.

Socialising with colleagues is a key reason to go back to work, Hancock says

Socialising with colleagues is a key reason to go back to work, Mr Hancock told The Times.

He said video calls could not compare to face to face meeting: ‘Social relations that are part and parcel of an effective working relationship that you can only really build up face to face,’

‘It’s about building rapport because working effectively in many jobs you need to build a rapport. It’s harder to build that rapport by Zoom.

‘I was in Downing Street yesterday because I had three meetings with the prime minister and it’s far easier to have those meetings face to face because there’s a better calibre, or better quality, of discussion.’

The Health Secretary also expressed concern for some people’s livelihoods if workers stayed at home: ‘One of the big challenges is there are big shifts in the economy.

‘It’s really worrying news about the job losses at Pret a Manger and other places on the high street, especially when you see that at the same time as some of the coffee shops in suburban areas where people are spending more time working from home are busier than they’ve ever been.

‘These transitions are never easy. I worry about the economic consequence.’

He also said although he backed change in how people live their lives we need to be careful to think about the wider impact it may have: ‘Whilst I am generally someone who is on the side of the future and seeing these evolutions as a good thing, we’ve got to take into account that they have a big impact when the change comes as abruptly as this one.’

The document stressed that the figures represent a scenario, not a prediction, and aim to help the NHS and local authorities prepare for the coming months, Newsnight said.

The report goes on to state that while other restrictions could be in place until March 2021, schools are likely to remain open across the country. 

It also said the Government’s tracing, isolation and quarantine measures would only be 40 per cent effective in cutting the spread of Covid outside households, the BBC said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that schools were safe to attend as he encouraged every pupil to return to the classroom.

‘The evidence is overwhelming that it is in the interest of the wellbeing and the health of children, young people, pupils, to be back in school rather than missing out any more,’ he said.

‘So, it is the healthy, safe thing to do.’ 

It comes as more than one million people can again mix in different households from next week, after Covid-19 restrictions were eased in parts of northern England.

From Wednesday, social gatherings can take place between two homes in Bolton, Stockport, Trafford, Burnley, Hyndburn and parts of Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.

The decision came after local political leaders submitted their recommendations to the Government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC).

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘We brought in measures to protect people in these parts of northern England, and I want to thank residents who have worked so hard to get on top of this virus.

‘We’re seeing the positive results of our local approach, and are able to bring in increasingly targeted measures.

‘It is vital we can maintain this good progress.

‘I have every faith people across the country, especially in areas where we are seeing higher numbers of cases, will continue to play their part by following local rules, and self-isolating and requesting a free test as soon as they get any symptoms.’

Data showed coronavirus cases per 100,000 decreased during the week ending August 20 in Burnley from 52 to 24.6, in Bolton from 25.6 to 18.9, in Stockport from 23 to 15.1 and in Trafford from 27.1 to 17.8, said the Department of Health and Social Care.

The lifting of the measures in Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees excludes the Bradford city area, the Keighley town area, Halifax, Dewsbury and Batley.

Residents in Manchester, Rochdale, Bury, Tameside, Salford, Preston and Leicester will also still be banned from visiting others in their homes or gardens.

In addition, people in Oldham and parts of Blackburn and Pendle, where infection rates are the highest in the country, will still not be able to socialise with anyone outside their household anywhere.

Gary Hall, deputy chairman of the Lancashire Resilience Forum, which is leading the county’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, said: ‘If we continue on this path I am hopeful that all parts of Lancashire will have the remaining restrictions lifted soon, but this depends on people following the rules wherever they live in the county.’

Council leaders in Trafford told the Government at its now weekly review that restrictions should have been maintained, following advice from its own director of public health.

Andrew Western, Labour leader of Trafford Council, said: ‘It is apparent that for all of their claims of working in collaboration with local authorities, the Government has decided to overrule the council and lift restrictions in Trafford.

‘This action by Government makes a mockery of the claims of locally led decision-making and once again shows that local government is being ignored in spite of being on the front line of this crisis.’

The latest rolling seven-day rate of new Covid-19 cases in Trafford up to August 25 was 25.3 people per 100,000, compared to 19.8 up to August 18.

Last week, Mr Hancock announced a more targeted approach to Covid-19 restrictions, in which the views of MPs would also be sought to gain ‘the maximum possible local consensus’.

He added this would allow local councils to focus resources on the wards which need more targeted intervention in order to drive infection rates down.

However the Labour council leaders in West Yorkshire criticised that approach as ‘confusing’ and said the intervention of Tory backbench MPs ‘undermines council leadership’.

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