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UK public is urged to avoid demonstrations amid pandemic

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has urged people not to breach lockdown rules for mass demonstrations following the death of George Floyd.

He told the Downing Street briefing he was “appalled” at the African American man’s death, but that coronavirus remains “a real threat”.

Black Lives Matter protests are planned in towns and cities across the UK this weekend.

A senior Met Police officer earlier warned such gatherings were “unlawful”.

Protests began in the US after a video showed Mr Floyd, 46, being arrested on 25 May in Minneapolis.

Footage showed Mr Floyd gasping that he could not breathe during the arrest by four officers. They have since been charged over the death which sparked days of protest in the US and Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the world.

Mr Hancock said: “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.

“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 six people.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel echoed Mr Hancock’s comments, urging people to avoid large gatherings “for the safety of all of us”.

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