Covid lockdown measures could be tightened in DAYS if Brits continue to flout rules, warn ministers

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CORONAVIRUS lockdown measures could be tightened in days, ministers have warned. 

It comes amid fears that compliance has waned during the third national lockdown as Downing Street mulls whether to clamp down further. 

Police officers patrol the South Bank in London yesterday morning as cops vowed to crack down on Brits flouting the rules

 

Government sources told the HOAR that ministers were prepared to tighten the lockdown further unless the situation improved by the weekend. 

It is understood a fresh clampdown could include an end to click and collect shopping and no longer allowing two adults to meet up outdoors in a public place for exercise. 

But claims people could be ordered to stay three metres apart were strongly denied by ministers.

Last night Downing Street insiders said all this could yet be stopped if everyone stayed at home.

One said: “The compliance data is mixed.

“We should have better data by the weekend and at that point we will have to decide whether we need to go further.”

Yesterday No10 insisted that extra measures were not expected to be “imminent” suggesting more rules could come in the near feature – but refused to be drawn on when.

And this morning Matt Hancock told the BBC when asked about more rules: “We always keep these things under review but what really matters now is the degree to which everyone follows the existing rules.

“You can always make changes at the margins, it is possible to make further restrictions but the most important thing is the compliance with existing measures, that is what’s going to make a difference.”

Ministers only introduced the nationwide lockdown last Monday – and want to give it time to see if the rules are bringing cases down.

According to the latest figures from yesterday, the number of positive cases over the week had dropped by around 2,000 – the first sign the lockdown is working.

HOAR has looked at the ways lockdown in England could get tougher – including the compulsory wearing of masks and the closure of nurseries, too.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman did not rule out further tightening of lockdown restrictions yesterday, saying: “If we need to take further action we will. 

“But the important thing now is we are asking people to stay at home.”

It came as:

  • Jeremy Clarkson called on the nation to join HOAR’s volunteer Jabs Army
  • Matt Hancock admitted that some GPs were having to slow down their vaccinations as they had done all their over 80s already
  • And he admitted hotels were being considered for treating some hospital patients as space runs out across the NHS
  • It was revealed there will be a 24/7 trial of vaccine delivery in certain areas – likely to be just for NHS staff
  • Asda will be the first supermarket to offer jabs in store
  • Biometrics firm iProov and cybersecurity firm Mvine, will issue vaccine certificates to prove digitally they’ve had the jab
  • Boris Johnson will face a grilling from top MPs in the Commons this afternoon

It comes as Priti Patel vowed to crack down on those flouting lockdown rules. 

In a press conference yesterday, the Home Secretary warned that stricter enforcement could be on the cards if Brits continue to sneak out to meet others unnecessarily. 

She told people to obey lockdown rules or face further measures within days.

Ms Patel said blame for a crackdown would lie solely with a minority of people who she accused of putting the health of the nation at risk with “endless egregious breaches”.

Speaking at a No10 press conference, Ms Patel said: “If you do not play your part, our selfless police officers will enforce the ­regulations and I will back them to do so.”

She revealed that almost 45,000 fixed penalty notices had been issued across the UK during the pandemic but warned that the police were going to get tougher.

The Home Secretary was backed by the chairman of the National Police Chiefs Council, Martin Hewitt, who warned there would now be more bobbies on the beat to look out for rule-breakers.

He told the press conference: “At this critical time, we will have more dedicated police officers out on dedicated patrols to take action against the small few who are letting us all down.”

A shopper passes a police cut-out at a Morrisons in South London

Crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse also warned officers would be adopting a new “high-profile” approach to enforcing the rules that could include stopping members of the public to ask why they are not at home.

Britain’s most senior police officer, Dame Cressida Dick, also warned that officers in London will move swiftly to fine people who blatantly ignore the regulations.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We will move more quickly to enforcement, and particularly where somebody is breaking the law and breaking the regulations.

“If it is absolutely clear that they must have known, or do know that they are, then we will move very swiftly to enforcement and fining people.”

It comes as the UK suffered its second deadliest day so far in the pandemic yesterday, with 1,243 fatalities reported.

The total number of infections is now 3,164,051 after 45,533 more tested positive.

This is lower than yesterday when 46,169 more cases were reported – but there is usually a lag in reporting over the weekend, with infections rising again on a Tuesday.

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