Skip to content

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

Protest organisers asked to contact police

A number of protests are due to take place across the Avon and Somerset force area this week.

While gatherings of more than six people or two households aren’t allowed under coronavirus regulations, there is an exemption for protests to take place providing organisers take the required precautions to limit the spread of the virus.

Demonstrations we expect to take place include ones in Bristol as well as in Bath and possibly Taunton on Saturday.

Superintendent Mark Edgington said: “We’re committed to facilitating people’s democratic right to protest and we’re keen to do everything we can to make sure any event takes place safely.

“Under current coronavirus regulations, protest organisers are required to carry out a risk assessment and take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the virus.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t had any contact from anyone identifying themselves as being responsible for organising the events.

“I’d like to reassure those involved in the planning of the demonstrations we want to work with you to help ensure your event is safe and to limit the impact on members of the public not taking part.

“We’ve recently had positive feedback from the organisers of a protest which took place last weekend and I hope this gives people confidence that our desire to speak with you is purely so that we can work together.”

Supt Edgington added: “This weekend will be the first many businesses have been open for some time and it would be desperately unfair if any event caused them significant disruption.

“While we fully recognise the rights of protestors to express themselves, we have a duty to balance these rights with those of other members of the public to go about their lives unhindered.

“By working with organisers, we can help plan appropriate routes should they choose to march and which will allow them to express their views without creating issues for the rest of our communities.

“We will have plans in place to monitor and manage the events regardless – these will include specialist police liaison officers who will look to speak directly with anyone who gathers.

“Restrictions may have eased but that doesn’t mean we can afford to let our guard down and so please, if you have been involved in organising any of the protests due to take place this weekend, get in touch via our non-emergency number 101.”