POLICE have issued a dispersal order for people gathering for a protest on the second coronavirus lockdown.

More than 600 people gathered at Piccadilly Gardens to protest the lockdown, breaking the new rules on gatherings and groups.

Police were in attendance and issued a section 34 dispersal order.

The police statement said: "Greater Manchester Police is aware of a large gathering in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester City Centre and officers are in attendance.

"Prior to this gathering, officers engaged with the organiser; explained the restrictions; and encouraged compliance and are continuing to do so.

"Under the Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, a section 34 dispersal order has been authorised for Manchester City Centre until 6.45pm today (Sunday, November 8, 2020).

"This means members of the public must not gather in this area. Failure to comply is a criminal offence."

There has been mixed reaction to the news of the protest, with various people blaming it for more spread of coronavirus and others in support.

Assistant Chief Constable Mabs Hussain said: "Today, Greater Manchester Police responded to a large gathering in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester City Centre. At the peak of the gathering, in excess of 600 people were in attendance.

"I would like to use this opportunity to publicly condemn this gathering. Both the organisers and attendees were irresponsible - increasing demand on police who are also responding to calls regarding serious incidents and people who are in immediate danger across Greater Manchester.

"Before and during this gathering, officers followed guidance to engage with the organiser and attendees, explain the restrictions and encourage compliance. Unfortunately, the encouragement was ignored which resulted in officers progressing to enforcement.

"Under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, officers authorised a Section 34 Dispersal Order. They also arrested four people on suspicion of public order offences and issued 24 £200 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs). Enquiries are ongoing to also issue an FPN to the organiser.

"Enquiries have established that one group of attendees travelled to Greater Manchester from Cumbria via coach. The driver and the company they work for have both been reported to the relevant industry regulator.

"Whilst responding to this gathering, a number of officers were injured. This is unacceptable behaviour towards officers who were simply doing their job and protecting people. Investigators will now work to identify those responsible and ensure they face justice.

"I would also like to remind members of the public that these restrictions are to control the spread of Covid-19 and protect everyone - including you and your loved ones as well as the NHS. I encourage you to do your bit to fight the virus by complying with the restrictions and staying at home."

One Twitter user said: "I'd love to introduce some of the ppl marching in Piccadilly Gardens today to my husband and friends who are currently caring for covid +ve patients. If you saw the reality, you may choose differently."

While another said: "