Coronavirus: Is it safe to protest in crowds?

Is it safe to protest in crowds during coronavirus crisis? The global health crisis hasn't stopped forms of injustice from happening and it hasn't stopped thousands of people taking to the streets to protest against these injustices.

However, mass gatherings can increase the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Are you allowed to protest during this pandemic?Police have arrested protestors for breaching coronavirus legislation, although lockdown restrictions are being lifted the government's advice for avoiding large crowds still remains in place along with maintaining a two metre distance from people in public.

Do activists think it's possible to protest safely during a pandemic?James O'Nions, Head of Activism at Global Justice Now, told ITV News:"First and foremost, safe protests means social distancing. I think the protests that have happened so far during the lockdown have actually seen people generally being really conscientious about that.

"I'd encourage people to cycle to a protest though if you can, not only do you avoid public transport, but actually having people pushing their bikes on demos helps maintain social distancing, too."

James O'Nions says take a bike to any protest to help social distancing. Credit: ITV News

What do campaigners think you should you wear?O'Nions believes "masks are appropriate on protests right now, we know that they're not a panacea, but they can cut the risk of virus transmission if we all wear them".

The government says that face coverings do not replace social distancing, but do advise for them to be used in crowded areas.

Are there other protective measures those who protest can take?Health professionals have advised not to chant or yell as this can spread droplets, but instead advise using things like noise makers, drums or just signs.

They also advise to bring hand sanitiser to any events and avoid touching your face.

Credit: ITV News

Do campaigners believe people should be attending marches?"Protests have always been a really important part of how progressive change happens in society and this crisis is highlighting vital issues like inequality," O'Nions told ITV News

"Our ability to protest remains really important and I think there are lots of ways we can be creative about making our voices heard in public spaces whilst staying at least two metres apart."

What are the other ways to support a cause without turning up physically?"Lots of the activities of campaigning of activism have become even more online during the pandemic, including meetings and talks.

"People are also finding their ways to show their support for causes on social media as well."