Posters advertising a ‘mass gathering’ in two Bristol parks have prompted a stern police warning urging people not to attend.
Police are trying to track down whoever is behind the posters, which have been shared on social media, to “speak to them about their responsibilities to the general public”.
The posters circulating on social media encourage people to gather in Brandon Hill and Victoria Park on Saturday (May 16) – but authorities have stressed anyone who goes will be “putting people at risk”.
The poster openly encourages people to breach the coronavirus rules, stating: “Be a part of the largest mass gathering since the lockdown.
“We say no to the coronavirus bill, no to the mandatory vaccines, no to the new normal and no to the unlawful lockdown.”
The poster claims the event has been organised by “the UK Freedom Movement”, which is the name of a group that campaigns to “defend freedom, equality and democracy”.
However, the group has not clarified if it is indeed behind the posters and has been approached for comment.
Similar posters have been made for dozens of other parks across the country, including in Swindon, London and Kent.
A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police said: “We’re aware of adverts encouraging people to gather in two Bristol parks on Saturday and hope to speak to those behind them about their responsibilities to the general public to not do anything which could spread coronavirus.
“While many of us are now able to spend more time outdoors, each of us need to take responsibility for doing that within the restrictions set out by the government, and we encourage the advert’s creator to get in touch with us via our non-emergency number 101.”
The force said neighbourhood police officers will continue to monitor the situation and will be patrolling “throughout the weekend”.
The warning continued: “For the past few weeks we have been engaging with the public, explaining the restrictions and encouraging them to comply with them, and thanks to their support we’ve rarely had to enforce the Government regulations.
“But if people disregard the remaining restrictions and in doing so, put people at risk, officers do have discretion to utilise their powers.”
Andrew Brown, chairman of the Victoria Park Action Group, took to Twitter to condemn the event.
He said: “As chair of Victoria Park Action Group I want to make abundantly clear this has nothing to do with the group and that I, personally, condemn this and would discourage people from participating in such an event.”
In a further statement tweeted by the group itself, people were advised not to share the poster and to contact police if they see any groups in the park.
The statement read: “Whilst it is possible that this is some form of hoax, we feel duty bound to take it seriously.
“Our primary concern is that the park remains open and accessible to local residents in accordance with the rules imposed as a response to the current Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are therefore most concerned that any such gathering poses not only a risk to any participants, and the people they come into contact with, but also to those who use Victoria Park to maintain their physical and mental health.
“We would urge people not to attend such a gathering, or to interact with people engaging in this behaviour.”
Bristol City Council has also issued a message about the planned gathering.
A spokesperson said: “Mass gatherings are clearly not allowed and the advice remains that people should stay at home as much as possible to reduce the spread of the virus.
“We continue to work closely with police to ensure people respect the guidelines.”
The gatherings have been widely criticised online, with people branding them “reckless idiocy” and “absolute madness”.