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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted his government's coronavirus lockdown reopening plans are causing "frustration," after dozens of demonstrators denouncing the "fake virus" were arrested in London.
Johnson, who was hospitalized last month after falling seriously ill from COVID-19, wrote in the Mail on Sunday newspaper that citizens "will feel frustrated with some of the new rules” as restrictions are gradually lifted in England, the BBC reported.
"We are trying to do something that has never had to be done before — moving the country out of a full lockdown, in a way which is safe and does not risk sacrificing all of your hard work,” he wrote. “I know this will not be easy — the first baby steps never are.”
The British government relaxed some restrictions on outdoor activities in England last week and plans to continue easing rules over the next few months.
Johnson’s comments come after dozens of protesters claiming the coronavirus lockdown is illegal were arrested in London’s Hyde Park on Saturday.
The demonstrators, organized by the group called “UK Freedom Movement,” held signs that read “anti-vax deserves a voice" and "freedom over fear," while others referred to the government’s coronavirus restrictions as “tyranny,” Sky News reported.
Some protesters promoted conspiracy theories that 5G caused the virus, the outlet reported, disinformation that the National Health Service director has previously dismissed as “rubbish.”
Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labor Party leader and Johnson opponent Jeremy Corbyn, was among those arrested during the protest after calling the pandemic a “pack of lies to brainwash you and keep you in order,” Britain’s PA news agency reported.
David Sampson, a 50-year-old finance worker, told the outlet he attended the protest because he "never thought I'd see in my generation the suppressing of civil rights" over a "fake virus."
The U.K. has at least 241,461 confirmed coronavirus cases and 34,546 deaths as of Sunday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
As Britain and the rest of the world continue their race to create a vaccine for the infectious disease, Johnson leveled with citizens, writing that there might never be a vaccine for COVID-19 despite the global effort to develop one.
“There remains a very long way to go, and I must be frank that a vaccine might not come to fruition,” he wrote.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.