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On Thursday night the Government announced new controls covering Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and areas of West Yorkshire. Different households in these areas are now banned from meeting each other after a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The Government also on Friday delayed plans to lift some lockdown restrictions from the rest of England for the next two weeks. Boris Johnson said it was necessary to “squeeze the brake pedal”. Fears of widespread rioting, which could need the military to contain, were laid out in documents published by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), which advises the Government. They warned tensions across the country have been heightened by protests, racial inequality, local coronavirus restrictions and street parties.
One document said: “In the next few weeks and months the UK will face grave challenges to public order. “The situation is volatile and highly complex. “Tensions resulting from the pandemic and lockdown have become inextricably bound with structural inequalities and international events. “While widespread urban disorder is not inevitable, currently, the situation in the UK is precariously balanced and the smallest error in policing (whether perceived or real, inside or outside the UK) or policy could unleash a dynamic which will make the management of Covid-19 all but impossible.READ MORE: Covid areas of concern MAPPED – 26 towns on Boris Johnson watch list
“Put simply, a serious deterioration of public order could overwhelm all attempts to control contagion, overwhelm hospitals, the criminal justice system and hinder revival of the economy.” It is feared the unrest could be worse than that seen during clashes in 2011 and may even “require military intervention”. In 2011 rioting the police shooting of Mark Duggan, who officers said was armed at the time, sparked five days of rioting across England beginning in Tottenham. Five people were killed during the violence which ripped through London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol and a number of other towns and cities.DON’T MISS
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The SAGE report warned the police would be in a worse position to deal with the unrest than in 2011 due to cuts in their numbers.
Large ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests, as well as rival demonstrations aimed at protecting national monuments, took place across the country in June.
Some of these turned violent, resulting in clashes with police around Whitehall and Parliament Square.
Police were also attacked as they attempted to shut down a number of illegal street parties. One incident in Brixton late in June left 22 officers injured two of which required hospital treatment. The SAGE report suggested community tensions should be taken into account when new lockdowns are imposed.
It said: “Government should take account of intelligence on community tensions and other factors that may be inflamed by the extension or imposition of local lockdowns. “Public health measures are never simply scientific decisions and the consequences in terms of public order (and ultimately for public health) could be serious if lockdown imposition is ill-judged.” On Friday Mr Johnson warned: “The prevalence of the virus in the community, in England, is likely to be rising for the first time since May.”
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News – London news: Riots ‘worse than 2011’ to hit Britain ‘in days’ over new COVID-19 lockdowns