£10,000 fine for woman involved in protest against Covid restrictions

24/9/20 Haymarket anti mask protest - credit Sam Fox
Police say 80 people joined an illegal gathering in Norwich to protest about mask wearing and other Covid precautions. Credit: Sam Fox

A woman has been fined £10,000 for taking part in an illegal gathering in Norwich city centre on Thursday.

It follows a demonstration by Covid sceptics on the Haymarket which started just after midday and which police say was attended by 80 people.

The protest was to voice objections to the enforced wearing of masks and other coronavirus restrictions and was joined by Piers Corbyn, the brother of the former Labour leader.

The 37-year-old woman, from the Norwich area, was arrested at the scene yesterday after refusing to provide her details to police.

She was taken into custody at Norfolk Police headquarters in Wymondham and following police enquiries was later issued with the fixed penalty notice for contravening the ban on being involved in holding a gathering of more than 30 people.

Norfolk Police said they also arrested and charged a 25-year-old man from the Norwich area on suspicion of common assault after allegedly coughing at a woman. He has been released on bail to appear at Norwich Magistrates Court on Monday 23 November.

Three other people at the gathering were reported for the offence of organising or facilitating a gathering of more than 30 people, in breach of the Health Protection Regulations.

Norfolk Police have issued a £10,000 fixed penalty notice to a 37-year-old woman involved in a Covid sceptic protest in Norwich. Credit: Sam Fox

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Megicks, who has been leading the local police response to the coronavirus, said: "As a police force, we fully appreciate how difficult the past six months have been for the county and I am pleased that the vast of majority of people have played and continue to play their part, following the guidance and legislation helping to protect Norfolk and prevent the spread of COVID-19."

In a statement from Norfolk Police, the Assistant Chief Constable said: "The gathering yesterday was in breach of the Health Protection Regulations and we took action to disperse the group including making two arrests.

"We will all have a role to play in keeping our county safe going forward and we won’t hesitate to take action if needed as yesterday demonstrated."

ACC Megicks added: "We police by consent and we need people and businesses to work with us on this.

"Our approach will remain the same: engaging with people first, explaining the guidance and law and encouraging people to do the right thing.

"However, we will not sit back and allow people to deliberately break the law. Where we are left with no choice but to enforce we will do so to protect our communities."