Have your say: Who is more to blame for England's rising COVID cases?

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·2-min read

As positive tests of coronavirus continue to soar, the government has toughened up its stance on the rules during lockdown.

Latest figures showed that as of Tuesday, a further 1,151 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 in England, and there were another 41,121 cases.

With numbers high, home secretary Priti Patel attempted to place the blame on the public, saying a minority of people were “putting the health of the nation at risk” as she backed a tougher police approach to lockdown rules.

Speaking at a Downing Street press briefing on Tuesday, Patel said officers are moving more quickly to issuing fines where people are clearly breaching coronavirus regulations, with nearly 45,000 fixed penalty notices issued across the UK since March.

Chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Martin Hewitt said more officers will be out on dedicated patrols to deal with rule breakers, while communities secretary Robert Jenrick has also spoken to councils about enforcing the regulations.

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What you can and can't do under current lockdown rules

However, a former police chief has said it was “no wonder” there had been confusion around the enforcement of lockdown rules given some of the terminology used by the government.

Ex-Durham Police chief constable Mike Barton said politicians needed to keep their messaging “simple” around COVID regulations and avoid changing the rules as much.

The home secretary herself appeared to get the rules wrong after saying “outdoor recreation” is permitted in a “restricted and limited way” – despite it being prohibited during the lockdown.

Moments after insisting the coronavirus rules are “actually very simple and clear”, Patel apparently misspoke when trying to explain that exercise is permitted.

She was accused of adding to the confusion as leaders of police groups were calling on the government to clarify the “incredibly vague” rules for exercise, which say it should be confined to “your local area” without setting a legal distance.

Read more: Downing Street can’t say whether you’re allowed to sit on a bench

Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown