Almost 200 people arrested at protest against lockdown

Police have arrested 190 anti-lockdown protesters as hundreds of people marched through the streets of central London on the day tougher coronavirus rules came into force in England.

Officers urged demonstrators to go home as they took to the streets near Trafalgar Square on Thursday evening, warning those who had gathered that they were breaching coronavirus restrictions.

Protesters, very few of whom were wearing face coverings, began to walk up the Strand soon after 6pm, chanting "freedom" and "no more lockdown".

Police arrest a woman taking part in the annual 'Million Mask March' Credit: PA

Trailed by a large number of officers from both the City of London and Metropolitan Police forces, protesters were repeatedly told to go home, with one officer shouting at a group: "You are breaking the law."

The Met said in a statement the majority of arrests were for breaches of the new regulations and the number of arrests was expected to increase as the operation continued through the night.

A man is detained by police officers as protestors from the Million Mask March Credit: PA

Commander Jane Connors, who is leading the operation, said the force's main priority had been to "keep Londoners safe".

Four protesters, one of whom was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, were arrested by police officers near the gates of Charing Cross Station.

A protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, as protestors from the Million Mask March Credit: PA

Soon after 7pm, a smaller demonstration gathered near Primark on Oxford Street, where a number of protesters were grouped in by two lines of officers.

Those clustered in by police chanted "stand up" while officers encouraged protesters gathered nearby to go home.

"You need to leave, you are breaching coronavirus restrictions," one officer told demonstrators.

A protester holds placards during the demonstration. Credit: PA

The Metropolitan Police said that protesters were ignoring directions from officers and warned enforcement action would be taken against those who did not disperse.

A number of police vans and officers were still in place on Oxford Street soon before 8pm, while a number of protesters remained grouped in.

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