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Matt Hancock has urged people to report their neighbours if they suspect they are failing to self-isolate and should face fines of up to £10,000.
The Health Secretary became the latest minister to back “snitching” on rule-breakers although it put him at odds with Boris Johnson who indicated last week that he did not like “sneak culture.”
His comments came just hours after the Government announced a new legal duty for people to self-isolate if told to do so by track and trace officials because of their symptoms or because of their contacts with infected coronavirus victims.
People who adhere to the new law face fines of £1,000 and up to £10,000 for repeated refusal to self-isolate although police sources say the higher fine is more likely to apply to employers who force staff to disobey the instructions and return to work.
Asked on Sky's Ridge on Sunday if he would report a neighbour Mr Hancock said: "Yes, and everybody should. And the reason for that is that the way we control this virus is by breaking the chains of transmission.”
Urging people to follow the hygiene guidelines, rule of six and social distancing, he added: “Everybody has a part to play in this. Then if you test positive or if you had a contact and you are told to self isolate it is absolutely critical that you do to break the chains of transmission.
“If everybody follows the rules, then we can avoid further national lockdowns, but we, of course, have to be prepared to take action if that’s what’s necessary. I don’t rule it out. I don’t want to see it.”
Repeating this view later on the BBC's Andrew Marr show he added: 'I'm not in this for a popularity contest. I'm in this to keep the country safe."
Last week the Prime Minister urged people only to inform on people as a last resort “if there is some huge kind of Animal House party taking place...hot tubs and so forth and there is a serious threat to public health.”
He appeared to contradict Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, who backed people informing on their neighbours if they were breaking the new rules, adding: “It’s not dobbing in neighbours, it’s all about us taking personal responsibility.”