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Home Secretary Priti Patel walks across Westminster Bridge whilst on patrol with Metropolitan Police officers in central London, to hear about about Covid enforcement. Picture date: Monday January 18, 2021.
Home secretary Priti Patel on COVID-19 enforcement patrol with Metropolitan Police officers in London on Monday. (PA)

The home secretary has insisted that clamping down on lockdown rule breakers is the way to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Priti Patel said on Monday that a stricter enforcement of current COVID-19 rules was the way to get the virus under control, and not the introduction of new tougher lockdown measures.

“The focus has to be on compliance and enforcement of the regulations and the rules as they stand,” she told the PA news agency.

She said tougher lockdown measures were not needed to get the R number – the reproduction rate of the virus – down below one.

The R value is currently estimated to be between 1.2 and 1.3, meaning that every 10 people with coronavirus will infect 12 to 13 more.

Patel warned people their “actions have consequences” as she urged them to comply with the rules or face a fine.

Last week, Patel was criticised by a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), who said her comments about lockdown non-compliance were “disastrously wrong”.

She was also criticised for getting COVID guidance wrong twice in the space of three days, incorrectly saying that people can only exercise alone, when they can do so with one other person from a different household.

Read more: Priti Patel gets COVID guidance wrong despite saying 'the rules are clear'

Watch: Priti Patel accompanies police on COVID enforcement patrol