'Follow the rules', PM urges, as concerns raised about policing new lockdown measures

The Prime Minister has urged the public to “follow the rules” as he set out new coronavirus guidelines surrounding face coverings and socialising with people outside your own household.

Monday, 11th May 2020, 7:16 pm
Updated Monday, 11th May 2020, 7:18 pm

Boris Johnson told MPs today it was right that the sacrifices made by the British people were now acknowledged as the country began to take steps towards opening up.

It comes after detailed guidance was published today on the next steps in tackling the pandemic, expanding on Mr Johnson’s address to the nation on Sunday.

One of the changes included the advice that people should wear face coverings in enclosed places, such as in some shops and on public transport.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street, London, for the House of Commons, ahead of his statement to the House on COVID-19. Photo: PA

While it was also confirmed people can meet with a person from another household outdoors as long as social distancing is maintained. It can be one person one day and a different person the next.

Driving to destinations for outdoor walks and exercise is also permitted.

But the chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire James Mason said today some rural communities are ‘‘not yet ready for the return of tourism’’, while Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority chief executive David Butterworth said the Government’s announcement was “not the approach we were advocating”.

Fines for those who break the rules will rise to £100 in England, and double with each infringement up to £3,600.

Mr Johnson said: “Nobody wants to impose these fines and we don’t want to add to the burdens of our wonderful police force, so that’s why I hope, I know that the British people will exercise their common sense.”

But chair of the Commons Home Affairs Committee and Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper, said the lack of clarity in new guidance will make the job for police “much, much harder”.

Ms Cooper said she was “particularly concerned” at the increase in fines, adding: “The Government should first ensure that enforcement can be accurately and effectively done.”

Mr Johnson told MPs he had “huge admiration” for the police and urged the public to use “common sense”.

Admitting that as its requests become more complex “the harder it is for people to comply with the measures”, the Government has pledged to invest in public health education to ensure everyone understand the rules.

It was also revealed the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has been asked to look at the idea of a household “bubble” in the coming weeks, where one household is allowed to join up with and interact with one other household only.

This suggests a family with children would be able to incorporate a set of grandparents into their household group, for example.

The 50-page document released today says this method, based on a New Zealand model, could allow the isolated more social contact and reduce the loneliness and social harms of the current restrictions while limiting virus spread.

This could also allow two households to share childcare duties, freeing up more people to return to work, it adds, although the potential effects of this on transmission rates are to be examined.

It comes as a further 210 people were recorded to have died after testing positive for coronavirus today, bringing the UK total to 32,065. In Yorkshire, 2,104 people have now died, with an additional 22 recorded today.

The Government estimates that, as of May 9, some 136,000 people in England are currently infected with Covid-19.

Mr Johnson told MPs: “Our struggle against this virus has placed our country under the kind of strain that will be remembered for generations, but so too, has the response of the British people.

“Let me summarise, by saying that people should stay alert, by working from home if you possibly can, by limiting contact with others, by keeping your distance to two metres apart where possible, washing your hands regularly, and if you or anyone in your household has symptoms, you all need to self-isolate.

“Because if everyone stays alert and follows the rules, we can control the virus, keep the rate of infection down and keep the number of infections down.

“And that is how you save lives and to save livelihoods as we begin to recover from coronavirus.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to update MPs on the Government’s furlough scheme tomorrow.

Mr Johnson said: “I do think that the furloughing scheme has been one of the most remarkable features of the Government’s response and it is unlike anything seen internationally.”

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