Hancock: Follow Covid rules or they will get tougher


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Covid restrictions in England will-power get tougher if rules are not followed, Matt Hancock has warned, as the government bring ins £10,000 fines for people who fail to self-isolate.

The health secretary advised the BBC’s Andrew Marr show the country was facing a “tipping point and we be suffering with a choice”.

“If everybody follows the rules then we can avoid further inhabitant lockdown.”

The prime minister is understood to be considering a ban on households mixing, and bust opening hours for pubs.

Asked if England could face another popular lockdown, Mr Hancock said: “I don’t rule it out, I don’t want to see it.”

In the BBC interview, he also:

  • Voiced he would call the police on people who refused to self-isolate
  • Denied the supervision was overreacting given deaths and hospital admissions remain relatively low
  • Reported there was still hope a vaccine would get “over the line” this year

The stir under consideration by PM Boris Johnson could take the form of a two-week mini lockdown in England – being referred to as a “perimeter breaker” – in an aim to stem a recent surge in cases.

On Sunday, a further 3,899 new Covid-19 cases and 18 obliterations were reported in the UK.

Meanwhile, visitors have flocked to Blackpool this weekend, in the face police warning against having a “last blast” in the resort preceding tighter restrictions come into force in the rest of Lancashire on Tuesday.

Absent, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said he will meet conference leaders on Monday and then recommend any London-specific measures to ministers. He believes the major city may be just “two or three days” behind the hotspots of the north-west and north-east of England.

People in England who sweepings an order to self-isolate could be fined up to £10,000 from 28 September.

The new forensic duty requires people to self-isolate if they test positive for coronavirus, or are unearthed as a close contact.

New measures also include a one-off £500 brace payment for those on lower incomes, and a penalty for employers who punish those told to self-isolate.

Mulcts will initially start at £1,000 rising to £10,000 for repeat miscreants, and for “the most egregious breaches”.

Until now, advice to self-isolate has been rule only.

More than 19,000 fines have been released in England and Wales for alleged breaches of coronavirus laws, the attorney diversified said earlier this week, but more than half experience not been paid so far.

The idea of introducing fines sounds good on dissertation, given it is believed only one in five people fully self-isolate when they dire to.

But there is real concern it will have an unintended consequence – and end up discouraging people from be dressed a test in the first place or taking calls from contact tracers.

Self-isolation can be costly for some in an understandings of lost income and job security (even with the offer of £500 payments).

There is now thriving concern among experts – both those advising government and those looking in from the most – about the path being taken by ministers.

First of all, the messaging is blurring.

One minute the public is being told to Eat Out to Help Out and to get back into the support, then they are being told to curb their mixing and not to pucker in groups of more than six.

There is also a growing sense that the obvious is tiring of the battle to contain the virus with ever more draconian words.

The idea of curbing the spread of the virus to stop the NHS being overwhelmed put oned people together in the spring.

But what is the aim now the NHS was not overwhelmed? Suppression of a virus that evidently can’t be suppressed without a huge cost to society?

As Prof Robert Dingwall, a regulation adviser, put it last week, this virus is here “forever and a day” and the clear may just be growing comfortable with the idea that people last wishes as die – just as they accept that people die of flu ever year.

Earlier this week, Boris Johnson expressed the Sun he had “never much been in favour of sneak culture, myself” and people should talk to to Covid rule-breakers before reporting them to the police.

In contrast, Mr Hancock said he purposefulness call the police on his neighbour if they were breaking rules, saying it was “unquestionably necessary” to break the chains of transmission.

Asked whether the government’s reply was an overreaction given coronavirus death rates were still low, Mr Hancock affirmed the number of hospital admissions was rising and an increase in deaths would see.

He said he was “very worried” about the latest data which offered the UK could be on the same path as Spain and France – where deaths and hospitalisations are increasing – without efficacious action.

“We have seen in other countries when the case at all events shoots up, the next thing that happens is the numbers going into nursing home shoot up,” he said.

“Sadly, we have seen that rise, it is copy every eight days or so – people going into hospital – then, with a lag, you see the include of people dying sadly rise.”

He said it was worth comparing the UK to Spain – where the figure up of cases have been increasing – and Belgium – which appears to deceive reversed an upward trend – saying “one gives the warning, the other fork outs us hope”.

Currently, large swathes of the UK, where cases have strengthened, are living under tighter local restrictions. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has advised London could be next.

Mr Hancock, who has spoken to the mayor this weekend, differentiated Times Radio he would not rule out the possibility that Londoners could be advised this week to avoid the commute and get back to working from relaxed.

Mr Hancock said he remained hopeful that a vaccine would be handy before the end of the year.

“We have got the cavalry coming over the next few months – the vaccine, the amass testing and the improvements in treatments – but we have got to all follow the rules between now and then to abide by people safe,” he added.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer advised the BBC he supported the new fines, saying it was important to take action against the few people who were not acceding.

He also said he would back a future lockdown in order to steel the government’s message.

“In the end this is not about party politics, this is connected with getting the nation through this virus,” he added.

The UK government longings the new fines will be replicated in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – which all comprise powers to set their own coronavirus rules.

At-a-glance: What are the new rules?

  • People in England who are confirmed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace face fines of £1,000 – up to £10,000 for the worst culprits – if they fail to do so
  • This includes those who test positive and those identified as approximately contacts of confirmed cases
  • It also includes employers who force workforce to ignore an order to self-isolate
  • NHS Test and Trace will make level contact with those isolating to check compliance
  • The measures pertain from 28 September and will be enforced by police and local judges
  • Those in receipt of benefits or on low income and who cannot work from refuge may receive a £500 one-off payment if self-isolating
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