XR Bristol Covid-19 & Public Health Statement

In light of Bristol City Council’s Covid statement of August 19th, Extinction Rebellion Bristol offers reassurance that its upcoming protest is safe and legal in respect to Covid regulations and highlights the need to keep the climate and ecological emergency at the top of the public agenda.

Extinction Rebellion Bristol exists to drive political action on the serious threat to the public raised by the climate and ecological emergency, and we welcome actions that protect the public in the face of the Covid emergency. Our August Bank holiday protest follows Covid guidance and risks have been mitigated. All those attending are urged to wear masks, socially distance using the markers on site, to frequently sanitise their hands at the site hygiene stations, and to not attend if displaying symptoms or if coming from an area that is on the coronavirus watchlist. Please refer to our Covid safety page for more details.

Extinction Rebellion Bristol follows the science. For this reason we chose to cancel our April protest and to move all our meetings online two weeks before the Government recognised the need for social distancing back in March. Yet the scientific and legal evidence now supports the need for protest.

The upcoming rebellion is fully legal under current Covid legislation*. Outdoor gatherings, including those of more than thirty people, are legal if organised by a ‘political body’. Regulations define a ‘political body’ as one ‘doing activities which promote changes in law or government policy’, such as the actions of Extinction Rebellion.

Scientific evidence shows that the transmission risk from outdoor events is very low. Protests, such as those of Black Lives Matter, have not led to spikes in infections. Instead 90% of all transmission events happen at home, in workplaces, on public transport, at social gatherings, and in restaurants. At a time when the Government is encouraging the public to eat and drink out, open-air protests have a negligible impact on infection rates.

While scientific evidence shows that the risks of open air protests are low, it simultaneously highlights the cost of not demanding change on climate and ecological breakdown. In the last month alone temperature records were broken and a report was released showing that the rate of ice loss matches the worst-case scenario predictions of the UN’s IPCC report. This 2018 report warned that the world had twelve years to take action to avert the worst of climate and ecological breakdown, but current modelling suggests that the time frame to act may be much shorter

Current estimates suggest that it is likely to take until mid-2021 to release a vaccine for Covid-19, but it may take much longer and there are no reassurances that one can be successfully created. To wait on a vaccine before returning to protesting climate and ecological breakdown will have a minimal impact on Covid transmission rates and resign our future to climate chaos.

We are running out of time and the UK Government is not taking the necessary steps to protect the public. Without urgent and radical changes, Bristol faces water shortages and severe flooding in the coming decades, and food shortages, extreme weather, and more pandemics within the lifetime of many alive today.

Extinction Rebellion Bristol follows the science, and the science calls on citizens to rebel.

*The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020, introduced on 4 July, as amended on 15 August