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Thousands of ravers hit the streets of London to protest UK restrictions

Thousands gathered in Central London on the weekend, protesting the impact of COVID-19 on the live music industry.

On Sunday, an event named ‘Freedom to Dance’ was held in London.

Over fifty industry figures and performers supported and attended the event organised by the pressure group, ‘Save Our Scene’.

The event began on Regent Street, where vans blasted music to crowds. Attendees then marched towards Parliament Square, sporting rave wear and carrying cardboard signs.

Image: Yushy via Vice

Videos have been shared to Twitter showing mass crowds dancing and cheering without taking any COVID-19 precautions.

At the same time, the UK is battling the highly contagious Delta variant, and on Monday had over 22,000 people testing positive.

The ‘Save Our Scene’ group issued a statement on the Thursday before the ‘Freedom to Dance’ protest, which explained that the event’s purpose was “to draw attention to the devastating position that the government has put our world renowned industry in“.

They further added that: “our overarching message (is) to end lockdown and remove restrictions as soon as possible so that this amazing industry and others can survive“.

Although organisers encouraged mask-wearing, footage from Sunday shows that most chose to go without.

It is likely that for many, if not most, of the thousands of attendees, the event was less of an opportunity to take political action as it was a chance to rave for the first time in well over a year.

On Monday after the event, UK Health Secretary, Sajid Javid announced that lifting COVID-19 restrictions was his “absolute priority,” and assured the press there would be “no going back” once they are eased.

The fourth stage in the UK’s easing of restrictions was originally planned to commence on June 21.

However, this was pushed back due to a surge in the Delta variant.

Currently, the UK restrictions limit outdoor gatherings to 30 and indoor gatherings (outside of the home) to 6.

The event could evade such restrictions as protests are generally exempt, so long as they are backed by an organisation, and complete a risk assessment before the date.

Protests are also covered under the European convention on human rights, as they uphold freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

The Freedom to Dance protest, for many, sparked serious fears of surging cases.

However, the UK is taking positive steps, and currently, it has the second-highest vaccination rate globally.