Image Credit: Ivor Holmes
A group of approximately 100 anti-vaccine protesters marched through York City Centre on Saturday 30 October at 3pm. The protest was seen walking through Parliament Street, down Castlegate, past Clifford’s Tower, and to the York Castle Museum. Some at the front of the march wore white masks covering their faces and medical overalls. Many held signs including “can we trust the media?”, “vax passports kill your freedoms” and promoting misinformation such as “Covid jabs are killing and crippling teens in record numbers.”
A leaflet seen by Nouse also made false claims about COVID-19 vaccines, such as that they contain “aborted human and monkey tissue.” Several children took part in the march. Also seen at the protest was a banner supporting The Light newspaper, an anti-vaccine paper which promotes conspiracy theories such as ‘The Great Reset’. ‘The Great Reset’ is a conspiracy theory which claims a global elite planned and managed the global COVID-19 pandemic, introducing lockdown restrictions in order to bring about an economic collapse and the rise of a socialist world government. The City of York Council told Nouse they do not wish to comment on the event.
Many similar anti-vaccine protests have recently occurred across the country, following reports of the possibility of the government introducing a ‘Plan B’ to tackle rapidly rising COVID-19 cases this winter. Plan B would introduce COVID-19 passports, compulsory mask- wearing, and government advice to work from home.
However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted that “nobody is calling for Plan B,” and Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that the data does not support enacting Plan B. Plan B is unpopular amongst many people as well as some lockdown- skeptical Conservative MPs such as Steven Baker MP, due to concerns about the compatibility of COVID-19 passports with values of personal choice and health autonomy.
The NHS Confederation, British Medical Association (BMA) and the Labour Party have all called for the introduction of ‘Plan B’. The BMA has said that refusing to introduce ‘Plan B’ would add up to “wilful negligence” by ministers, as “we could soon see 100,000 cases a day.” Speaking for Labour, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said that the government should introduce Plan B because the vaccination programme is “stalling”, and that the government was “failing” to effectively introduce Plan A.
Plan B could also mean changes to how universities handle in-person teaching and result in the introduction of the contentious vaccine passports. An even tougher Plan C, which could include restrictions on household mixing, has also been discussed in official circles, but this has been denied by the health minister Edward Argar.
Sir Keir Starmer has said the government should ban anti-vaccine protests outside schools, following reports of some anti-vaccine protestors showing images of dead children to school children.
Home secretary Priti Patel has also said of protests outside schools that “it is completely unacceptable” but still defended the right to protest as a fundamental right of democracy.
There has been a high uptake of the vaccine at the University of York, with 75.3 percent of students fully vaccinated and over 90 percent have had their first dose. If students become symptomatic or come into contact with a Covid positive person, then the University’s walk- through testing centre remains open in Wentworth Way Car Park.