Life is heavily restricted once again as the UK goes back into lockdown following a huge rise in coronavirus rates in all four nations. England’s third national lockdown began on January 4 and is currently set to last for six weeks, with the public ordered to stay at home, limit contact with others, and to not leave unless for essential reasons. The Home Secretary Priti Patel has issued a slew of warnings for those tempted to break the rules.
Announcing the lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I want to say to everyone right across the United Kingdom that I know how tough this is, I know how frustrated you are, I know that you have had more than enough of Government guidance about defeating this virus. But now more than ever, we must pull together.”
He added: “The weeks ahead will be the hardest yet but I really do believe that we are entering the last phase of the struggle.
“Because with every jab that goes into our arms, we are tilting the odds against Covid and in favour of the British people.
“And, thanks to the miracle of science, not only is the end in sight and we know exactly how we will get there.
“But for now, I am afraid, you must once again stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”
Asked whether there could be a ban on non-essential travel, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “The current advice remains that you must stay at home and not travel abroad unless you are permitted under regulations.
“So travel should only be taking place under very strict rules.”
Speaking on LBC radio, Ms Patel said: “This is our normal way of life now.
“Everyone will acknowledge and recognise that this pandemic has taken away so many of our freedoms.
“I absolutely believe in freedom and liberty, that is fundamental to our democracy.
“However, these restrictions are in place for a reason, we are in a global pandemic and we’re seeing coronavirus rise.
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“You and others said there wouldn’t be an invasion of homes unless people were really egregiously flouting the rules.
“Is it time to step that up more do you think? Would you empower the police to take stronger action on enforcement?”
Ms Patel replied: “The police have always taken firm and strong action when it comes to enforcement of coronavirus regulations.
“Over the Christmas period alone there were something like 800 fines issued for coronavirus breaches.
“The police will absolutely continue to be strong on enforcement, we are in a lockdown, we are back to where we were in spring last year.
“We are in such a situation right now that the need to be out and about will be very restricted, so you will see the police out and about and if you are out and about.
“And it’s inevitable you may see officers out and about and they may ask you for justification of why you are out and about, and if you are seen to be breaching the rules they will take enforcement action against you.
“And they may issue you with a fixed penalty notice.”