Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): protests and demonstrations

Published: 6 Nov 2020

Guidance for people organising and taking part in protests and demonstrations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Contents
Coronavirus (COVID-19): protests and demonstrations
Overview

Overview

Our current advice is that protests and demonstrations risk the further spread of COVID-19, particularly if those taking part do not follow safety measures.

We respect and support your right to demonstrate, but the current COVID-19 situation means that these type of gatherings pose a risk to public health. For this reason, if you are thinking about holding a demonstration or protest then we strongly advise you to reconsider and think about other ways of making your voice heard. This could include, for example, using social media or holding a virtual event.

Static protests and demonstrations, categorised in the law as ‘outdoor organised events’, are prohibited in COVID protection level 4 areas.  They are not legally prohibited in levels 0, 1, 2 and 3. However, we ask that you follow the advice in the preceding paragraph to consider alternatives. If a static protest or demonstration is to take place, steps must be taken to minimise the spread of the virus, and this guidance is designed to help you do that. The section below covering the scope of this guidance sets out what constitutes a static demonstration.

Things to consider before organising or taking part in a demonstration or protest

Before organising or attending a demonstration or protest you should consider:

  • alternative ways of having your voice heard that remove the current health risks posed by face-to-face contact
  • carrying out a risk assessment that considers the risk of COVID-19 transmission for all those involved with your proposed demonstration – organisers, volunteers, demonstrators, stewards, police, bystanders and others in the vicinity
  • who else might be using the space at the same time and how this might impact on your use of the space and the ability to maintain physical distancing
  • the location of your demonstration, when it will take place, and how people will get there
  • any permissions you might need to use the land identified for your demonstration
  • all relevant guidance, as well as current regulations and advice and the necessary actions you must take to stay safe
  • sharing this guidance and explaining the responsibilities with those participating in your event
  • talking about your demonstration with Police Scotland and your local authority and sharing your risk assessment

Additionally, you should fully consider how the following measures could make your demonstration safer and how you are going to implement them:

  • hygiene measures
  • physical distancing measures
  • test and protect measures
  • face coverings
  • safely getting to and from the demonstration by following advice for using public transport in your local area
  • current restrictions in place in your local area
  • engaging with Police Scotland and local authorities
  • working with other sectors and public services

Good management and responsible and considerate planning will help to make your static demonstration as safe as possible. This will ensure that participants, local communities and anyone coming into contact with your event minimise the risk of catching and spreading COVID-19. Please help us to tackle this virus together.