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Hundreds protest COVID-19 restrictions in London

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People take part in a 'We Do Not Consent' rally at Trafalgar Square, organised by Stop New Normal, to protest against coronavirus restrictions, in London, Saturday, Sept. 26.
People take part in a 'We Do Not Consent' rally at Trafalgar Square, organised by Stop New Normal, to protest against coronavirus restrictions, in London, Saturday, Sept. 26.   -   Copyright  Frank Augstein/AP Photo
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Thousands demonstrated in London against new COVID-19 restrictions issued amid a concerning increase in cases.

Many of the protesters in Trafalgar Square were not wearing masks and said they were sick of restrictions imposing on their freedoms.

Ten people were arrested during the protest and four police officers were injured in clashes with protesters, London's Metropolitan Police confirmed to Euronews.

"We remain in a public health crisis and gathering in large numbers puts your health, and the health of your family, at risk," police warned in a tweet prior to the event.

The Met Police also said that it would not tolerate violence and hostility towards police officers or members of the public.

Frank Augstein/AP Photo
Riot police face protesters who took part in a 'We Do Not Consent' rally at Trafalgar Square, organised by Stop New Normal, to protest against coronavirus restrictions.Frank Augstein/AP Photo

In a statement, the Met acknowledged that protests are exempt from the "rule of six" - which forbids gatherings of more than six people - but warned that social distancing must be followed.

Later, police said crowds "have not complied with the conditions of their risk assessment and are putting people in danger of transmitting the virus," meaning the event was no longer exempt.

The protest organisers said that tens of thousands of people had protested while police said they did not have an estimate of the number.

“I know there is great frustration to these regulations, but they have been designed to keep everyone safe from what is a lethal virus. By flagrantly gathering in large numbers and ignoring social distancing, you are putting your health and the health of your loved ones at risk," said Commander Ade Adelekan, who is leading the Met operation.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he "recognise[d] the burden and impact these additional measures have on our daily lives but we must act collectively and quickly to bring down infections."

Frank Augstein/AP Photo
People take part in a 'We Do Not Consent' rally at Trafalgar Square, organised by Stop New Normal, to protest against coronavirus restrictions, in London, Saturday, Sept. 26,Frank Augstein/AP Photo

Britain has been the most heavily impacted country in Europe by the pandemic, with nearly 42,000 deaths due to COVID-19.

Nearly half of Wales, including the capital Cardiff, will be subject to local movement restrictions.

Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Getting announced on Friday that from 6 p.m. Sunday, people would be prohibited from entering or leaving the cities of Cardiff and Swansea without a valid reason, such as work or school. The same provisions will come into force the day before in Llanelli.

Several European countries have issued new restrictions to curb the spread of the virus as experts call increasing hospitalisations "worrying".

The Madrid region, the epicentre of the pandemic in Spain, is preparing to extend the restrictions already in place to new areas. From Monday, around 167,000 additional residents will only be able to leave their neighbourhood for specific reasons: to go to work, to go to the doctor or to take their children to school.

In total, just over a million people, out of a total of 6.6 million, are now subject to these new restrictions in the Madrid region. These measures were, however, deemed insufficient by the Spanish government, which called for them to be extended to the entire capital.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the health minister of Victoria has resigned in the fallout from an inquiry into why security guards were used instead of police or the military at quarantine hotels. Lapses in security at the hotels were given as the major reason for a second wave of COVID-19 cases.

Victoria reported just one more coronavirus death as Melbourne’s new case average continued to fall. The death took the state toll to 782 and the national figure to 870. There were 12 new cases, while Melbourne’s 14-day average fell again on Saturday to 23.6.

Melburnians, who have been in lockdown for more than a month, are waiting for the easing of restrictions on Monday. It's expected to include a staged return to school for some students and outdoor gatherings of five people from two households.