A POLICE chief has urged people not to gather or organise protests or mass gathering following last weekend's demonstration against lockdown measures.

Under covid-restrictions, only two people from different households are allowed to meet outside.

And today, Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey urged people to consider the impact meeting in large gatherings has on communities and the health service.

ACC Nick Bailey, Head of Special Operations and Public Order at GMP said: "Following the events over the weekend which saw more than 600 people gather at Piccadilly Gardens, I want to appeal to anyone who may be considering organising or attending illegal mass gatherings and protests to reconsider, and to think about the impact these events are having on our communities, on our health service and the ability of police to keep the public safe.

"We are all familiar with the risks the coronavirus presents, and the gatherings we have seen to protest are against covid legislation, and risk spreading the virus and prolonging the restrictions placed on our region. Since Thursday 5 November, the legislation has changed, and protests are no longer exempt from these restrictions. This now means that whilst we are in lockdown, any gatherings of more than two people outside who don't live together are illegal, and Police are obligated to disperse these gatherings."

Other recent large gatherings include an illegal rave in Astley Whilst we will continue to engage with individuals, explain restrictions and encourage compliance before enforcing, people must take responsibility for their actions, and where gatherings or protests take place we are obliged to take action through dispersal and the imposing of fines to attendees and organisers.

ACC Bailey said: "Greater Manchester Police has a long history of facilitating safe protest and respecting people's rights to protest, but we are currently in a very different position, and whilst Greater Manchester suffers through the pandemic our top priority is to keep the public safe. Therefore we simply cannot sit back and allow these gatherings to take place.

"We all want to come out of the health crisis with a clear conscience knowing we did everything we could to stop the spread of the virus. So I am today asking the public to do their bit during the lockdown, allow us to use our resources where it is most needed, and reduce the demand on our health service by staying away from protests and other large gatherings."