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Coronavirus (COVID-19): the policing response and what you need to know

Statement about potential protests in Bristol

Superintendent Mark Runacres, Bristol area commander, said: “We are aware of two protests due to take place in Bristol city centre on Tuesday, 30 March and Saturday, 3 April.

“Following changes to COVID regulations, there is now an exemption to allow peaceful protests. However, this exemption only applies if the organisers take the required precautions to ensure people’s safety is not put at risk.

“We would encourage any protest organisers to engage with the police so we can help them ensure any protests are legally compliant, while also minimising the risk to the general public during this health emergency.

“We do understand the strength of opposition to the new legislation being debated in Parliament but we’re asking people to exercise their right to protest responsibly due to the clear health concerns.

“The pandemic hasn’t ended and large numbers of people congregating together at any one time continues to increase the risk of spreading COVID-19. Ideally, people would find alternative ways to express themselves such as contacting your MP or signing one of the petitions available online.

“The NHS and hospitals continue to face significant pressure and we would urge people to continue to do all they can to help prevent the spread of the virus, especially ahead of the Easter weekend.

“Policing plans will be in place to manage the two protests should they go ahead and specially trained protest liaison officers will attend and look to work with those gathered.

“We respect people have a fundamental right to protest and should the protests take place we want to ensure they do so peacefully and without incident.”