Police to disperse large crowds gathering in London for 'clap for carers' tonight

30 April 2020, 10:16

By Asher McShane

Large groups of people who gather in London for the weekly "clap for carers" event will be told to return home, the Metropolitan Police said today.

Two weeks ago, the force's commissioner Dame Cressida Dick was filmed leading dozens of officers in the weekly applause for key workers on a crowded Westminster Bridge.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said Met officers and staff will continue to join the tribute at 8pm on Thursdays.

A crowd gathered on Westminster Bridge to pay tribute to the NHS
A crowd gathered on Westminster Bridge to pay tribute to the NHS. Picture: PA

But he warned today that people who are out without a reasonable excuse outlined in the Government's lockdown rules will be asked to return home.

"We have repeatedly reminded colleagues that they must maintain an appropriate social distance at all times where operationally possible. But to do this they also need the support and assistance of the public," he said.

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"As this event has gained prominence it is understandable that major landmarks, including Westminster Bridge in central London, have become focal points for those who wish to applaud.

"However, it is not acceptable for people to disregard the safety of themselves and others. Officers will be present tonight to engage, explain and encourage them to observe social distancing rules.

"Members of the public who are not away from their homes for one of the reasons outlined in the Government's emergency legislation should expect to be asked to return home.

"In keeping with our approach to these rules throughout the lockdown, officers will only enforce this legislation as a last resort."