Thousands gather at 'unplanned' anti-lockdown protest in Glasgow

You’ll never take our freedom! Thousands of defiant protesters stage largest anti-lockdown rally in recent months as they march through Glasgow against Nicola Sturgeon’s draconian Covid restrictions 

  • Thousands gather at Glasgow anti-lockdown protest as anger at Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid curbs boiled over
  • Activists shouted anti-government chants as they marched through some of the city’s busiest streets today 
  • Event was said to have been organised by Scotland Against Lockdown, an anti-lockdown and vaccine group

Police have been called to manage an ‘unplanned’ anti-lockdown protest in Scotland’s largest city that appears to be one of the country’s largest demonstrations since the pandemic began. 

Thousands of protesters gathered at Glasgow Green at 1pm on Saturday as public anger boiled over at First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s latest Covid curbs.

The activists began the unplanned procession by marching through Argyle Street, one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, during what the campaign group called a ‘Freedom Rally’.

Some of them were pictured carrying placards saying ‘Do you trust your government with your life?’ and ‘vaccine passports means your body will be owned by the state forever’. 

The protest is believed to have been organised by Scotland Against Lockdown, a group that runs campaigns against mandatory facemasks.

The campaigners are also opposed to the Scottish and UK Governments’ Coronavirus Act 2020, social distancing and mandatory vaccines, according to its social media pages. 

Official data showed Covid cases in Wales and Scotland are increasing faster than in England despite the nations’ harsher restrictions.

Confirmed infections are rising more than twice as quickly in Scotland as they are in England, jumping from 6,976 to 14,006 in the former nation in the week up to January 2 – an increase of more than 100 per cent.

For comparison, cases increased 44 per cent in England to 129,014 during the same period. They increased by more than 52 per cent in Wales to 9,718. 

New figures also revealed there are 1,362 people in Scottish hospitals with confirmed cases of Covid-19. Of these, 48 people were in intensive care with the virus. 

Police have been called to manage an ‘unplanned’ anti-lockdown demonstration in Glasgow today. Crowds of activists marched in Argyle Street during what the campaign group called a ‘Freedom Rally’

The protest is believed to have been organised by Scotland Against Lockdown, a group that runs campaigns against mandatory facemasks

Public anger is boiling over at First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘draconian’ measures, as Covid cases continue to rise faster in Scotland compared to England, according to the latest available data

A woman holding a sign saying ‘Scotland c’mon guys 2 weeks to flatten the curve — ‘aye right” takes part in the protest in Glasgow today

A man wearing 

People take part in the ‘Freedom Rally’, an anti-vaccine demonstration organised by the campaign group ‘Scotland Against Lockdown’ in Glasgow city centre

Official data show Covid cases in Wales and Scotland are increasing faster than in England despite the nations’ harsher restrictions

The same changes to testing for asymptomatic people as seen in England — with confirmatory PCR tests no longer required — were implemented in Scotland from Thursday.

On the same day, Scotland announced pre-departure testing for travellers entering the country would be scrapped.

The change will take effect from Friday at 4am, while those coming into the country will also be able to use a lateral flow test instead of a PCR as their post-arrival test, taken on or before the second day of their stay, from Sunday at 4am.

The requirement to self-isolate until a negative PCR is returned will also come to an end.

Other restrictions in the country include events having one-metre social distancing and being limited to 100 people standing indoors, 200 people sitting indoors and 500 people outdoors.

One-metre physical distancing is in place in all indoor hospitality and leisure settings.

Table service is also required where alcohol is being served.

Since December 14, people have been asked to reduce their social contacts as much as possible by meeting in groups of no more than three households.

Allowing staff to work from home where possible has become a legal duty on employers.

Care home visits have also been limited to two households.


One witness said about 1,000 people were taking part in the protest in Glasgow today. 

A police spokesman said: ‘Officers are currently facilitating an unplanned procession in Glasgow City centre to ensure public safety and minimise disruption to the community.’

The protest came as a health board in Scotland warned it could declare a major incident next week as Covid case numbers continue to rise sharply.

Members of the military have already been drafted in to some areas to support NHS workers as the Omicron variant fuels Covid infection levels to record highs.

In a briefing to staff, NHS Grampian said that due to ‘an exponential growth’ of cases in the last fortnight, it could declare a ‘major incident’ as early as next week.

It said: ‘Based on our modelling data, we anticipate a continued and significant growth in the levels of the disease placing even more significant pressure on care homes, primary care teams, community teams and hospitals.

‘Our planned response will include a declaration of a major incident when a number of key trigger points are reached.

‘Looking at our local data, these triggers could be met as early as the end of next week.’

The document went on to explain staff will be briefed further with a major incident plan if the announcement goes ahead next week.

Military personnel began arriving to support NHS staff in NHS Grampian, NHS Ayrshire and Arran and NHS Lanarkshire on Friday.

It is understood Grampian will have 38 service personnel for four weeks, while 32 will work in Lanarkshire for the same period, and 20 in Ayrshire in Arran for the next six weeks.

The personnel have joined 221 members of the Armed Forces who have been supporting the vaccine programme across Scotland, with 96 driving ambulances in support of the Scottish Ambulance service.

New data released on Saturday also showed there were 12,602 new cases of Covid-19 reported, although there are delays in people receiving results from PCR tests.

Of the 57,907 new tests for Covid that reported results, 25.1% were positive.

There were 26 new reported deaths of people who have tested positive for the virus.

A first dose of a vaccination has now been received by 4,390,076 people, while 4,041,550 have received their second dose and 3,082,231 have received a third dose or booster.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: ‘There continue to be large volumes of tests being processed by labs; this and the holiday weekend have impacted turnaround times resulting in delays between specimens being taken and results being received and reported.

‘Public Health Scotland are continuing to monitor the situation.’

Meanwhile, Wales yesterday doubled down on level two measures — which have been in place since Boxing day and include the rule of six, mandatory face masks in all indoor setting and a night club ban.

Professor Robert Dingwall, a former Government Covid adviser, said Omicron in Wales was ‘driving an increase which is not really being contained by these extra restrictions’.

But Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford yesterday launched an astonishing tirade at Boris Johnson over Covid restrictions.

He vowed to ignore clear evidence that the worst of the Omicron wave has passed in order to keep tough restrictions in place in Wales. 

Graph shows: Covid infection rates across England’s regions up to January 2, Department of Health data shows

Pictured above is the % change in infection rates in England over the week to December 26 (left), and January 2 (right)

NHS figures released today show there were 13,045 beds occupied by coronavirus sufferers on January 4, of which 4,845 were not mainly sick with the disease. It means only six in 10 inpatients are primarily ill with Covid now compared to more than 80 per cent with Delta

Experts say there is reason to believe that incidentals will continue to rise as the variant pushes England’s infection rates to record highs, with one in 15 people estimated to have had Covid on New Year’s Eve

The share of so-called ‘incidental’ cases was even bigger in Omicron hotspot London , where 45 per cent of ‘Covid patients’ were not primarily in hospital for the virus

Map shows: vaccine uptake across England’s 300-plus local areas, with darker colours indicating a higher proportion of the population that has got a booster. Uptake is lowest in London

Professor Dingwall told The Daily Telegraph: ‘What I think can be reasonably said is that all of the extra interventions put in place by the Welsh government really do not seem to have had any impact.’

He added that cases are soaring in parts of France ‘which have a lot more restrictions, but are also having big waves of Covid, especially in the major cities. 

He said: ‘Omicron is so infectious that actually nothing you do makes much difference’. 

But Mr Drakeford branded England an international ‘outlier’ in resisting tighter curbs and accused the PM of overseeing a ‘politically paralysed’ administration that had tied his hands.

He used a press conference to insist that Wales’ tough Covid restrictions on bars and mass events must stay in place due to an Omicron ‘storm’ breaking over the nation.

As the rest of the UK eases restrictions he warned of ‘a difficult month ahead’, despite admitting that the variant may not be as severe as previous waves.

But then, in a rant at Mr Johnson, he added: ‘In England, we have a Government that is politically paralysed, with a Prime Minister who is unable to secure an agreement through his Cabinet to take the actions that his advisers have been telling him ought to have been taken.

‘And even if he could get his Cabinet to address them, he can’t get his MPs to agree them.

‘The outlier here is not Wales. Wales is taking action, as is Scotland, as is Northern Ireland, and as are countries right across Europe, and right across the globe.

‘The one country that stands out as not taking action to protect its population is England.’

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