Group Hugs: London Protesters Defy Social Distance
Wed, April 21, 2021

Group Hugs: London Protesters Defy Social Distance


Group hugs have become the latest weapon of anti-quarantine protesters in London, according to Business Insider. / Photo by Syda Productions via Shutterstock


Group hugs have become the latest weapon of anti-quarantine protesters in London, according to Business Insider.


“My Body, My Choice”

Around 20 protesters, including young children, recently gathered outside the New Scotland Yard. The England police station is known to be the Head Quarters of the Metropolitan Police and is near the Houses of Parliament. The crowd was seen hugging each other while some carried signs that read, “my body, my choice” and “no more lockdown.”

It has already been around six weeks since lockdown was imposed in the UK and the government has banned gatherings to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also ordered Brits to only go outside their homes for essential work, such as medical trips, exercise, and food shopping.

On May 26, Johnson may announce to reopen businesses, such as office-based firms, shops, and factories. However, this plan remains only as the “best hope” may not push through if the current Covid-19 slowdown will surge again.

The detailed instructions on how firms of various sectors can end the lockdown will be provided by Business Secretary Alok Sharma.

Officers encouraged the protesters and they subsequently dispersed but one man did not comply, causing the police to arrest him.


Majority of Brits concerned about lifting stay-at-home orders

Despite the anti-lockdown protest, a survey conducted by market research company Ipsos Mori showed that the majority of Brits are concerned about lifting the stay-at-home orders since they have been told for a month that staying at home flattens the pandemic’s curve and saves lives. Results also show that more than 60% of people in the UK would be uncomfortable doing their regular activities, such as going to restaurants or bars once the lockdown orders are lifted.


Sikhs are people associated with monotheistic religion called Sikhism. / Photo by Sumit Saraswat via Shutterstock


British Sikh doctors protest

Some British Sikh doctors, who are a part of the country’s frontlines, are also protesting after they were removed from their usual shifts at the NHS hospitals due to their beards. Sikhs are people associated with monotheistic religion called Sikhism. Shaving their facial hair goes against their religious faith.

The Sikh Doctors Association (SDA) reported that some Sikh doctors refuse to shave their beards so face masks do not properly fit them, increasing their risk of getting infected with Covid-19. The NHS Employers website reads that facial hair, stubble, and beards cause a common problem when using the PPE because it prevents the masks from sealing the face.

Before the London gathering, hundreds of people in the US also protested against the lockdown rules in Michigan and California. Protesters stood in the streets of Los Angeles, also defying the order of closing all beaches in Orange County.  The directive was issued after photos emerged showing the weekend crowd in Newport and Huntington beaches.

One US protester, Andrew Norman, said that he had served in the Army and fought dictators and tyrants overseas but the social distancing guidelines have “gone too far.” He added, “I didn’t do that to come back here and live under a tyrant in my own country.” Norman became aware of the protest through a social media campaign called #reopencalifornia.



Longtime Huntington Beach resident Mike Murray also said that their governor didn’t have the correct information when he ordered the closure of Orange County’s beaches. The authorities said there were 40,000 people on the beach but he didn’t see that many people when he was at the beach himself a week before the closure order. “It’s ridiculous that the governor has the power to close down the whole beach,” he said.

In a news conference, California Governor Gavin Newsom said that he understood the concerns of the people but still urged them to obey the orders. He also shared that some easing of the restrictions may happen days away. Hospitalization seems to be improving in the state but the protest could screw up all those improvements, he added.


United Kingdom: Covid-19 cases

As of May 6, 2020, the United Kingdom has 194,990 Covid-19 cases and 29,427 deaths, according to real-time world statistics platform Worldometer. This prompted calls for an inquiry into how the government is handling the pandemic as Britain’s coronavirus death toll is now the highest in Europe, exceeding the 29,029 in Italy.

UK’s Office for National Statistics moreover shows that the 29,648 Covid-19 deaths were registered in Wales and England by May 2. If they are to include the official death figures for Northern Ireland and Scotland, it would take UK’s death toll to 32,313.

Cambridge University’s Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication’s chair Prof. David Spiegelhalter said that UK’s death toll is “serious numbers” but he warned of the risks in comparing the death tolls of different countries. “I don’t like this league table of who’s top and who’s not,” he said.

Some countries have been praised for their quick responses to Covid-19 while others have been criticized for acting too late or doing too little. One of the reasons why we can’t compare the countries’ coronavirus responses is that countries collect data differently and it impacts the perceptions of a country’s response to the crisis. Another reason is that continents and countries are different. Africa, for instance, has a younger population compared to Europe so some experts believe it is the reason why Africa has a relatively small number of confirmed deaths.



Generalizations are also difficult because some cities are well-equipped. Furthermore, many countries have higher numbers of “excess deaths"– the temporary increase in the death rate as compared with the country’s historic trends.

Trade union Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association’s president Dr. Claudia Paoloni told The Guardian that Britain having the highest death toll in Europe indicates that the ministers have to answer about their way of handling the pandemic. “This is a very sobering and unwelcoming milestone,” she said, emphasizing the need for a public inquiry to better understand why they are experiencing a larger number than other countries in Europe.

Protests may erupt again over stay-at-home orders not just in the UK and US. The idea behind such civil disobedience is to persuade others that they are speaking for a cause, such as choosing freedom over fear. Yet, authorities also have their reasons for not budging, such as preventing a deadlier second wave.