Hundreds of anti-mask protestors gathered in London’s Hyde Park this weekend to demonstrate against new legislation which sees masks become mandatory in shops and supermarkets from 24th July.
According to London newspaper the Evening Standard, the protest drew hundreds of people this Sunday to listen to speeches and object to the government's new position on face coverings. Protestors held signs saying “No mask” and “I will not be masked, tested, tracked or poisoned”.
Those protesting believe that legislation on wearing masks – which is already mandatory on public transport – violated their civil liberties. In the speeches, some said they were confused by the government’s late introduction of mandatory masks.
The demonstration was part of the Keep Britain Free “movement”, a campaign started by Simon Dolan, a Monaco-based British entrepreneur with a personal fortune of £142 million. Earlier this year, Dolan launched a legal challenge against the British government over its lockdown legislation, which received crowd-funded donations totalling £221,678. The case was later disallowed by the High Court. According to the crowdfunder, Dolan is appealing the decision.
Dolan told VICE News: “This weekend has shown that hundreds of people from all walks of life were willing to stand up and show that the spirit of freedom and independent thinking is still very much alive.”
“The silent majority have started to find their voices to fight back against the trolls, the bots, and the members of the 77th Brigade,” he continues, “who seek to dominate social media and try to manipulate people's opinions at the behest of the state.”
The 77th Brigade – also known as the 77 Brigade – is an information warfare unit from the British Army that is assisting the Cabinet Office to identify misinformation about coronavirus. General Sir Nick Carter, Britain's chief of defence staff, told the Economist that it is only working to flag such stories to the government and that it would be "inappropriate for the military to be involved" any further.
Many countries around the world have already introduced mandatory masks as a way to curb the spread of coronavirus. The World Health Organisation has advised governments to encourage the general public to wear masks.
As of this weekend, failing to wear a mask in shops and supermarkets in England could incur a fine of £100.
This article originally appeared on VICE UK.