Almost 45,000 fixed penalty notices have been handed out to Covid rule breakers across the UK, as police warned they will ramp up patrols to tackle spiralling infection rates.
Home Secretary Priti Patel issued a stark warning to those who are flouting rules and ‘putting the health of the nation at risk’ that officers are ‘now moving more quickly’ to issue fines to those blatantly breaching guidelines.
Ms Patel announced the UK today recorded another 1,243 deaths – in one of the highest death tolls since the pandemic began – and a further 45,533 cases reported in the last 24 hours.
Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Martin Hewitt said he makes ‘no apology’ for the high number of fines issued and that are many ‘selfish’ people who are ‘not listening’ to officers.
He told a Downing Street press briefing on Tuesday evening: ‘In most cases, the person will comply after one request. But there are still too many who are choosing not to. And in doing so, they are endangering us all.
‘And so it’s important for me to be really clear. At this critical time, we will have more officers out on dedicated patrols to take action against the small few who are letting us all down.’
‘It’s very clear that we’re now at the most dangerous stage of the pandemic,’ he added. ‘There is a real and present risk that our health service could be overwhelmed and people, our friends and family, could die needlessly from this virus.
‘So we must all play our part in stopping that from happening.’
He gave several examples of recent Covid breaches, including a boat party in Hertfordshire with more than 40 people who paid at least £30 per ticket, while a ‘minibus full of people’ from different households were caught travelling from Cheltenham to Wales for a walk.
In Surrey, a £10,000 fine was issues to a party organiser who claimed he was holding a business event, while a 19-year-old was arrested in Bristol at the weekend after police found an advert for an illegal rave posted on social media and fined 38 other people who showed up for it.
Mr Hewitt added: ‘We will not waste time trying to reason with people like this, who have no regard for the safety of others. Organising parties or large gatherings is dangerous, selfish, and totally irresponsible in light of the current threat that we face.’
Ms Patel thanked the majority of the public who are following the rules but said a ‘minority of people are putting the health of the nation at risk by not following the rules’.
She said: ‘So, 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. Our police officers are not immune from the virus.
‘Far too often they are having to risk their own lives and their own health by coming into close contact with people, including those who deny the very existence of coronavirus, to keep us all safe.’
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