DOZENS of demonstrators descended on the town centre to fight against wearing masks.

Large groups gathered shouting and preaching outside Basildon Council offices in St Martin’s Square in the town centre without masks and trying to convince socially distanced shoppers with their message.

The group have been slammed in the community with Labour council leader Gavin Callaghan suggesting the protesters visit the hospital intensive care ward to see the virus’ impact.

He said: “I did see the images on social media and my message is get a grip or I can invite them for a tour of the hospital’s intensive care ward.

“They should see what the doctors are fighting and how it’s affecting people.”

Phil Turner, former Tory council leader, said the protest is not the way to go about things.

He said: “While everyone is entitled to an opinion I take the view I will do everything I can do help stop the spread of coronavirus.

“Wearing a mask isn’t a big deal and doesn’t take away people’s public liberty so I would urge residents to use some common sense.

“If people want to gather in big groups and take a chance, they could catch the virus.

“People should be sensible and think of protecting themselves if they do not think about protecting others.”

The group were seen in the town centre on Thursday afternoon and sparked anger in the community.

It comes after huge protests travelled through London - many of the demonstrators who marched in the capital wore no masks as they brought Oxford Circus to a standstill, shouting chants of ‘freedom’.

More than 80 people joined discussion on the Echo Facebook page criticising the Basildon demonstrators.

Anita Russ said: “It is fairly clear they reduce transmission but even if they don’t it’s a small inconvenience to you which could and in reality does stop some people becoming infected.

“It seems to me to be deeply selfish to not try to protect people at such a small cost to yourself.”

Susanne Wakerley added: “If everyone complies with the guidelines and restrictions then infection rates will fall, meaning we can come out if current High Risk Status, hopefully before Christmas. Not helpful.”