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Bristol Post
Bristol Post
Conor Gogarty

Anti-vaxxers to march in Bristol this weekend - 'more than 1,000' expected to attend

More than 1,000 people are expected to march through Bristol city centre on Saturday, says an organiser of an anti-vaccine event.

Angus Lancaster, a member of Covid-denying group Stand Up Bristol, says demonstrators will walk through Broadmead, Corn Street and other parts of the city centre on December 12.

The last Stand Up Bristol protest saw around 400 people gather at College Green on November 14, to oppose the second coronavirus lockdown.

Four men and one woman were later charged with offences including participating in a gathering and failing to comply with the directions of police.

Lockdown has since ended, meaning protests are permitted to take place again.

An Avon and Somerset police spokesman said: “While gatherings of more than six people outside are still against the law, Government regulations allow for some outside protest activity to take place if guidelines and regulations are met and safety measures are put in place.

“We have significant experience in policing protests and an appropriate plan will be put in place for Saturday’s event to ensure it takes place safely and peacefully.”

Mr Lancaster, who runs outdoor gym company Waterwalkerz, believes Saturday’s event will be significantly larger than the last one.

He says it will be a march against "lockdowns, tiers, restrictions, isolations, masks and vaccines”.

Stand Up Bristol has repeatedly spread false conspiracy theories about coronavirus, despite the pandemic having cost more than 1.5 million lives across the world.

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“We are expecting 1,000-plus people from in and around Bristol,” Mr Lancaster said.

“I am communicating with Sergeant Stephen Bell with regards to the route and risk assessments.”

He added the route will start at College Green before passing the Hippodrome.

“We will then go into Broadmead, walk past Primark on our left, then past McDonald’s on our left.

“When we reach the main entrance of Cabot Circus we will turn right, walk past Sports Direct on our left, until we get to the junction with the Odeon to the left.

“We will do another loop, again passing Primark, McDonald’s and Sports Direct, and then when we again reach the Odeon we will turn left, walking past the Odeon on our right.

“We will then turn right at Castle Park, walk along Corn street, then back to College Green. This should be the basic route but could be subject to change.”

Mr Lancaster says an announcement will be made to those taking part, outlining police instructions on social distancing, before the march.

“We don't imagine it being a problem as people can use their common sense, can stay in bubbles of six if need be, and currently in Bristol the shops are very crowded and busy,” he added.

“Schools, businesses, gyms, swimming pools are open.

“As we are outside there won't be any need for masks and if police do have any concerns with any one not following appropriate social distancing measures we expect them to use the four Es – so no one should be arrested.”

Avon and Somerset police’s four Es approach to enforcing Covid rules is: Engage, Explain, Encourage, Enforce.

“We are marching rather than protesting,” Mr Lancaster said.

“We are marching to raise awareness and to encourage people to look into and research for themselves and look at both sides of each topic and argument.”

The force spokesman confirmed officers are liaising with organisers.

“Bristol remains in Tier 3 restrictions and communities across the city are pulling together to help protect the NHS and get the virus rates down,” he said.

A Bristol City Council spokesperson added: “We work with partners to prepare for potential disruption arising from demonstrations and protests and will support the police plans to ensure a safe and peaceful event in this case.’’

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