New restrictions spark protests in London
Thousands of people have taken to the streets of London ahead of new COVID-19 restrictions as United Kingdom continues its fight against the pandemic.
A four-week national lockdown in England is due to end Wednesday, and will be replaced by three-tiered system of regional measures that restrict business activity, travel and socialising.
The vast majority of the country, including London, is being put into the upper two tiers.
The restrictions have sparked protests, with police arresting more than 150 people at an anti-lockdown demonstration in London on Saturday.
Thousands had been marching through the city chanting freedom with some carrying signs reading "Stop controlling us".
Several bottles and smoke bombs were thrown as anti-mask and anti-vaccine demonstrators scuffled with officers in the city's West End shopping district.
UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, also faces opposition to the measures from dozens of his own Conservative Party's lawmakers, who say the economic damage outweighs the public health benefits.
But Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the restrictions were "grimly" necessary to avoid the health system being overwhelmed this winter.
Writing in The Times of London, Mr Gove said there are currently 16,000 coronavirus patients in British hospitals, not far below the April peak of 20,000.
A rise in infections would mean coronavirus patients would "displace all but emergency cases. And then even those," he said.
"If, however, we can keep the level of infection stable or, even better, falling, and hold out through January and February, then we can be confident that vaccination will pull the plug on the problem," Mr Gove wrote.