Be heard, keep safe: advice for people attending local protests
Today’s official Black Lives Matters protest in central London has been cancelled and Black Lives Matter UK have encouraged people not to travel, and to attend local events instead. If you choose to attend a local protest, it is still important to take steps to avoid passing on coronavirus and keep you and your family safe.
Hackney’s Director of Public Health, Dr Sandra Husbands, has shared some advice:
Black Lives Matter. Your life matters. Your family members’ lives matter. Stay safe.
It’s no accident that this wave of Black Lives Matter protests has coincided with the outbreak of a virus that also discriminates about whom it infects and how badly it affects us. The Coronavirus pandemic is killing black and Asian people at about twice the rate it is white people. So, while the endemic racism that leads to discrimination, unemployment, poverty and brutality is severe and enduring, this current pandemic is just as deadly - not only for you, but also for your family members. Black and Asian people not only get severe COVID-19 or die from it more frequently than white people, but they are also 2 to 4 times more likely to have diabetes or high blood pressure, which increases their risk from this disease even more.
So, why do we risk going out to protest when we could catch a deadly virus? Because it matters. Black Lives Matter. It matters that our voices are heard. It also matters that we live - to see this through, to continue the fight and it matters that we don’t bring the virus home to vulnerable family members. It matters that our elders remain to provide their wisdom and strength to the community.
Alongside Black Lives Matter UK, I would urge you to stay close to home if you choose to protest today. There will be local protests across London, which will enable you to avoid public transport and keep away from central London, where the official BLMUK protest has been cancelled.
So, how do you protest while keeping safe from Coronavirus?
Prepare before you go
- Make sure you have a mask and hand sanitiser.
- Wearing gloves is also helpful
- Organise your routes to and from the protest, to avoid public transport as much as possible
While at the protest
- Follow instructions from stewards/march organisers and police
- Try to maintain social distancing with others from outside your household
- Avoid face to face contact with anyone at close quarters. If you can’t maintain a safe distance, side-by-side is safer than face-to-face
- If people are chanting or shouting this could increase the risk of the virus spreading. So, it’s best to keep mouths (and noses) covered with masks
- Use sanitiser often
When you get home, before getting close to anyone at home
- Wash your hands immediately
- Have a shower and wash your hair
- Change into clean clothes
- Put your clothes in the laundry bin (if you can’t wash them straight away)
There is no certain way to avoid being infected with coronavirus, but taking these steps will reduce the risk of becoming infected or take the virus home to your family.
Dr Sandra Husbands
Director of Public Health, Hackney Council