Nick Abbot 10pm - 1am
Hundreds attend rally in London to protest compulsory mask-wearing
19 July 2020, 18:27
Hundreds of protesters gathered in London to campaign against wearing masks.
Crowds gathered in Hyde Park at 1pm as part of a rally organised by campaign group Keep Britain Free (KBF).
People held signs reading, "I will not be masked, tested, tracked".
It comes as the Government is set to make masks compulsory in shops and supermarkets in England with potential fines of up to £100 if someone fails to wear one. They claim this is to tackle coronavirus and help prevent a second outbreak.
On the KBF website, their statement reads: "This country has a proud history of fighting for freedom. Yet the Government has used lockdown to strip away our liberties.
"Every aspect of our lives is now controlled by draconian rules and regulations. We are told how many friends we can have; whose houses we can visit; where we can travel - even what to think.
"Our children cannot return to school. Businesses remain shut. For months, churches, mosques and temples were simply locked up. Collective acts of worship remain banned."
The statement adds: "These measures are devastating the economy. They will ruin lives for generations. Millions of people have already been put out of work. Left to their own devices politicians will seek to control us."
Speaking to Sky News, organiser Leah Butler-Smith said the group is not concerned about people who choose to wear a mask.
She added: "It is just the fact that people are being told they have no choice about wearing a mask.
"Because the Government started out saying 'there is absolutely no need for a mask', and many other important scientists have reportedly said the same, it did not make any sense why they suddenly said it was going to be mandated.
"If the Government really wants to protect the public and give them more confidence then they should stop trying to use the coercion strategy or to make people scared."
A report last week suggested the World Health Organisation (WHO) changed its policy on masks due to political lobbying.
The WHO said from the offset of the pandemic that masks are little use outside clinical settings and this advice was also reiterated by UK Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries who in March said masks could even increase the risk of infection.
As recently as June, the Government released a report on keeping workers and customers safe in retail which said: "The evidence of the benefit of using a face covering to protect others is weak and the effect is likely to be small."
But the Government said they changed their policy because the evidence "has been evolving".
The Government also claim masks will give customers "confidence" to go back to the high-street.
Some experts have even suggested not wearing a mask is akin to not wearing a seatbelt. Although, this remains disputed.