Statement on events at Clapham Common on Saturday 13 March

Zero Covid expresses its solidarity with the women who held a vigil on Clapham Common, South London on Saturday for Sarah Everard, who had allegedly been murdered by a police officer.

The Metropolitan Police had discretion to allow the event to go ahead safely. By refusing to cooperate with Reclaim These Streets, who would have stewarded the event, the police undermined the public health protections that would otherwise have been in place.

Covid spreads by aerosol transmission almost exclusively indoors, in the unsafe workplaces that the UK government has kept open throughout the pandemic. There was therefore no public health justification for police officers to break up this peaceful vigil and arrest participants.

Police action to prohibit and disrupt safe outdoor assembly has nothing whatsoever to do with public health, it is purely and simply about the suppression of dissent.

Instead of repressive measures against activities that do not transmit Covid, we need effective action to make every workplace, including schools, Covid-safe, as well as a properly funded and locally based public sector system of find, test, trace, isolate and support, to effectively suppress viral transmission, so that people can live without the disruption of repeated lockdowns.

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