Police officer hurt while breaking up London Eid street party

London, Aug 01, 2020, IANS

A police officer was injured while attempting to break up a street party of around 200 people in east London celebrating Eid, it was reported on Saturday.

Officers were called shortly before midnight on Thursday to Ilford in east London, the Metro newspaper reported.

The Metropolitan Police received calls from the public who had spotted a large group of people gathered on the street ahead of Eid.

Officers approached the crowd and asked them to go home, but as some people dispersed a fight broke out.

Police rushed to break up the fight between the two groups and one officer suffered a head injury in the commotion.

One man was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence and assaulting an emergency worker.

Chief Superintendent Stephen Clayman, of the Met's east area command, said on Friday night that he was "concerned" about the size of the gathering during the coronavirus crisis.

"While we accept that celebrations take place, and we have no desire to spoil them for the community, if they descend into violence we absolutely will step in," he was quoted as saying by the Metro newspaper.

Meanwhile, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned that London residents could face another lockdown if they did not main social distancing amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"We've demonstrated that we're prepared to take the actions necessary to keep people safe," the Metro newspaper quoted Hancock as saying on Friday to Sky News.

His comments came after new restrictions affecting 4.5 million people were imposed in parts of northern England on Thursday night due to a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.

Plans to open casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks on Saturday have been shelved.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said further easing of lockdown restrictions including allowing small wedding receptions will be postponed for at least another two weeks.

At a Downing Street press conference on Friday, the Prime Minister said "squeezing the brakes" on reopening could help prevent a repeat of the nationwide lockdown, the Metro newspaper reported.

Johnson said the contagion is rising across the UK, with one in 1,500 people having the virus compared to one in 1,800 on July 15 and one in 2,000 on July 2.

The Office for National Statistics estimate there are now 4,900 new infections every day up from around 3,000 a day on July 14 and 2,000 a day at the end of June.

As of Saturday, the overall number of COVID-19 cases in the UK stood at 304,793, with 46,204 deaths.