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Stubborn number’ of people still refusing to follow coronavirus rules

Written by on 12th January 2021

A “stubborn number” of people are still refusing to follow the rules during the coronavirus lockdown, the chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council has said.

Speaking at a Downing Street news conference, Martin Hewitt said forces across the UK have issued almost 45,000 fines for breaches of COVID-19 rules.

Making clear that the police will be taking a tougher approach to enforcing the regulations, Chief constable Hewitt said officers will not “waste time” trying to reason with individuals who display “no regard” for the safety of others.
He said recent examples of “irresponsible behaviour” included a boat party in Hertfordshire that was attended by more than 40 people – and a minibus of people from different households travelling into Wales from Cheltenham for a walk.
“Organising parties or other large gatherings is dangerous, selfish and totally irresponsible in light of the current threat that we face,” Chief constable Hewitt said.
“Organisers will be fined. But so too will the people who choose to attend.
“Not wearing a face covering on a bus or a train is dangerous. It risks the lives of other travellers including those critical workers who must continue to use public transport to do their important work. So on those systems, unless you are exempt, you can expect a fine.”
The home secretary said the “horrifying” number of coronavirus deaths showed the need for people to abide by the rules.
Priti Patel said “most of the public” are doing this, but “a minority of people are putting the health of the nation at risk by not following the rules”.
She added: “My message today to anyone refusing to do the right thing is simple: if you do not play your part, our selfless police officers – who are out there risking their own lives every day to keep us safe – they will enforce the regulations.
“And I will back them to do so, to protect our NHS and to save lives.”
Ms Patel revealed that cabinet colleague Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, has spoken with local councils “about the role that they have to play in enforcing the rules”.
The home secretary said “far too often” police officers were putting their lives at risk by “coming into close contact with people, including those who deny the very existence of coronavirus, to keep us all safe”.
“We are now at a critical stage in our battle against this virus,” she continued.
“To protect those that you care about, and the capacity of our hospitals to protect us all, please stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.”