Health Secretary Matt Hancock has appealed to the public not to attend gatherings and demonstrations in response to organised Black Lives Matter protests this weekend.
Peaceful demonstrations are due to take place around the country, including Thanet, following the killing of black American George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Mr Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while he was handcuffed face down on the ground.
Black Lives Matter solidarity protests have been held across the globe in the wake of Mr Floyd’s death.
However, Mr Hancock has appealed for people not to join gatherings of more than six individuals as the country continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Restrictions and the ‘R’ rate
Restrictions initially put in place on March 23 have been eased over recent weeks but in the south east the R rate – the number of people the virus may spread to from an infected person – still stands at 0.97.
This rate needs to be below one to decrease transmission. The south east figure is the third highest in the country behind the south west at 1 and the north west at 1.01.
As of yesterday (June 5) there has been 40,261 covid-related deaths, according to government data. In Thanet there have been 655 people testing covid positive and 124 covid attributed losses.
Speaking yesterday Mr Hancock said: “Ahead of this weekend, when I know there are plans for further protests, I want to say something to you as Health Secretary.
“Like so many, I am appalled by the death of George Floyd and I understand why people are deeply upset.
“But we are still facing a health crisis and coronavirus remains a real threat.
“And the reason that it is vital that people stick to the rules this weekend is to protect themselves and their family from this horrific disease.
“So please for the safety of your loved ones, do not attend large gatherings – including demonstrations – of more than 6 people.
“We all need to stay alert, control the virus and save lives.”