20 Steps to Protect the Health of Yourself, and Others, at a Protest Right Now

Claudia Canavan
Photo credit: Michael Loccisano - Getty Images

From Women's Health

The violent death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black father living in Minnesota, USA, at the hands of a white policeman – who kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes as the life left his body – has lit a spark of protest across the world.

Amidst the pandemic, individuals have been sporting face masks and gathering to de-cry the systemic racism which led to the untimely death of Floyd, as well as of police brutality against Black communities.

This crime followed the high profile killings of Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade at the hands of the state, as well as of Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed by a white father and son while out jogging.

Demonstrations have happened and are planned across the UK, including at Parliament Square at 1pm on Saturday 6th June, and at the US embassy at 2pm, on Sunday 7th. Important note: a statement released via the official Black Lives Matter UK Twitter account has stated that this group are 'not calling for protests,' but will 'support people to protest in a way that is safe for them as well as for our communities.' (The protests are being organised under the #BLMLDN.)

Evidence from the Office of National Statistics suggests that Black people in England and Wales are four times as likely to die from COVID-19 than white people, making this concern a heavy one.

Right now, gathering en masse contravenes the rules of the novel coronavirus-necessitated lockdown. Of course, meeting in a crowd exposes yourself and others to the risk of contracting the virus. However, for some who are not isolating, this moment requires some hard decisions about navigating risk, while standing with communities demanding change around the world.

It's also vital to know that arrests have been made in earlier solidarity demonstrations in London. If you do attend a protest, read up on what to do in the event that you are taken into custody ahead of time (Black Lives Matter UK have shared expert advice from legal pros, via Twitter.)

You also need to know about staying as safe as possible, as well as protecting those around you. To that end, NHS GP Dr Adwoa Danso (@theclinicdiaries), shares a list of advice.

Please follow these, should you decide to take part.

20 safety tips to follow if you choose to protest, from Dr Adwoa Danso

1/ If you have any COVID-19 symptoms or are self isolating – stay home

2/ Plan your route ahead of time minimising contact with others, if you can walk or cycle the location do so

3/ Wear a face mask – remember to cover your nose

4/ Avoid touching your face

5/ Carry your own sign, do not share signs with others

6/ Minimise shouting, yelling or singing to reduce droplets spreading [this is medical advice to prevent the spread of the virus and is not intended to censor]

7/ If you do need to remove your mask, be mindful that you will need to wash your hands immediately

8/ Carry antibacterial gel with you

9/ Try and stick with the same person or group to minimise your contact with others

10/ Wear sun protection

11/ Avoid sharing food or drinks with others

12/ Eat before you leave, it may be difficult to do this during the protest

13/ Ensure you social distance as much as possible

14/ Stay hydrated, drink plenty of water

15/ If possible, wear glasses rather than contacts

16/ Only take necessary items with you (keys, phone, contactless bank
card), and again avoid handling them unnecessarily

17/ Check the forecast and dress appropriately for the weather

18/ Bring ear plugs if you have them

19/ Tie up your hair, if applicable

20/ Avoid jewellery or any other accessories

It's also important to note that, when you get home, your clothes need to go right in the wash, your shoes need to be cleaned and you should shower and wash your hair. This is to eliminate any potential infected droplets that have landed on you.


Disclaimer: The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it's possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you're in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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