Anti-maskers protest in Birmingham as city's infection rate doubles in a week

Hundreds of anti-mask protestors gathered in the centre of Birmingham earlier to rally against the Government’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions. 

In one of several so-called ‘freedom gatherings’ taking place across the UK today, crowds were told wearing a mask is pointless and the virus has been used as a tool to allow the Government to control what people do.

The mostly male crowd met at Victoria Square at noon for the demonstration called by the group StandUpX, just after it was announced that infection rates in the city have more than doubled in the past week.

This is the same group that invaded a branch of the supermarket Morrisons in Peckham, south London, recently shouting ‘your masks are so bad for you.’

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In videos of the Birmingham rally shared online, a speaker addresses the crowds while standing next to a sign reading: ‘Covid-19 is a smokescreen for a bigger agenda.’

He said: ‘What is it all about? It’s about control, exactly. Many of you already know this. We are faced with the task of trying to get more people to see this. 

‘So many people are walking around with masks on. What about the masks issue? Do masks protect you? Look at the scientific studies. They say they have next to no effect.’

Similar rallies were also planned in east London, Hull, Bournemouth and Sheffield. 

The anti-mask group, which also questions the need for 5G, describes itself as a movement that is ‘peacefully questioning the narrative’. 

Their website reads: ‘We do not consent to Government social distancing measures infringing upon public and private life. 

‘We do not accept enforced masks. We do not accept a dictatorship of lockdowns, threats of lockdowns, and Covid Ghettos.’

In another video, the same speaker urges people not to give their details to restaurants as part of track and trace efforts, telling them instead to say they are ‘Mickey Mouse or something.’

The group seemed pleased with how their first event event in the city had gone, tweeting: ‘What a great turnout for the first Birmingham protest.’

But others took to social media to criticise the protest. One person tweeted: ‘Im so disappointed with my city today… went into Birmingham city centre to pick up some supplies (with my mask on) and there was an anti mask/anti vax protest going on there. Fairly decent attendance. They were performing ABBA songs. I ended up in a heated debate with em.’

Sean Madden wrote: ‘Unbelievable. 100 years ago, people recognised that the best way to stop the spread of a virus was #SocialDistancing, in conjunction with hygiene. How backward do you have to be to not accept this? It’s a temporary inconvenience. Deal with it.’

According to the latest infection rate figures for England, covering the seven days up to August 11, Birmingham saw its Covid-19 cases increase from 13.8 to 28.1 per 100,000 people after 321 new cases were recorded.

Covering your face has been mandatory on public transport since mid June in England. This was extended to shops last month and other settings including cinemas a week ago. 

Some countries have gone further and made face masks compulsory even in outdoor settings, where social distancing might not be possible. 

The latest research suggests wearing face coverings can prevent you getting a more serious bout of coronavirus.

If the person wearing a covering does become infected with Covid-19 their symptoms are likely to be more mild, according to expert analysis.

Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease doctor at the University of California, San Francisco, said people wearing masks will take in fewer coronavirus particles, making it easier for their immune systems to cope.

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