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Met Police warn against 'complacency' ahead of Monday lockdown relaxation
28 March 2021, 17:01 | Updated: 29 March 2021, 08:51
The Metropolitan Police have warned against "complacency" and urged the public to "minimise" contact with others, as lockdown rules are eased across England on Monday.
The force say they will continue to hand out fines at illegal gatherings and will "remain highly visible in communities, including open spaces" as restrictions ease.
From Monday, the "stay at home" rule will be lifted for the first time in months, with meetings between either six people or two households permitted to meet outside.
With temperatures set to hit 24C in some areas, parks are expected to be packed as people take advantage of the lockdown easing.
The rules were already relaxed on 13 March in Wales, with groups of four people from two households permitted to meet outside.
England lockdown changes from Monday 29 March:
- Stay at home rule ends - People will be permitted to leave their houses without the need for an exemption, although people should still minimise travel and work from home where they can
- Outdoor gatherings permitted - Groups of either six people or two households are permitted to meet outside, including in private gardens
- Outdoor parent and child groups permitted - Groups of up to 15 parents will be able to meet outside, with children under five years old not counting towards the limit.
- Outdoor sport facilities reopen - Outdoor sports facilities, including golf, tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools can reopen
- Outdoor team sports allowed - Amateur sports can restart, as formally organised outdoor sports are permitted
- Weddings can take place - Ceremonies can restart, but only with four guests in attendance
- Outdoor protests - Protests are now explicitly exempt from the large gathering rules, if they stick to social distancing rules
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors, who leads the Met's response to Covid-19, said the force welcome the "limited relaxation or rules", but warned: "We must not let Monday’s news distract us, or usher in any complacency."
"The risk of Covid-19 has not vanished and people across London continue to be infected with this deadly disease.
"Wherever possible, we should continue to be vigilant, minimise our contact as much as possible, wear a face covering where required and keep ourselves safe. That means avoiding any large gathering."
Ms Connors added: “We will continue to respond quickly to house parties or dangerous raves, taking enforcement action by handing out fines.
"We make no apology for our tough stance on shutting down those large gatherings which risk public safety.
“Across London, Met officers will continue to be highly visible in communities and neighbourhoods.
"The public will see more officers in public spaces, engaging with Londoners as part of their duties and keeping people safe. We will also continue to bear down on our number one priority, violent crime.”
NHS bosses have also warned the nation not to "squander the gains" made during the lockdown.
NHS England national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said that Covid-19 still has the capacity to "wreak more havoc and ill health on a significant scale", citing concerns over new variants.
Prof Powis said the prospects "look immeasurably brighter and more positive" but said that the easing "does not mean job done".
Earlier, Boris Johnson said he is wary of the prospect of rising coronavirus infection rates, but sees "absolutely nothing in the data" to halt the easing of the lockdown.
The PM acknowledged cases could again spiral as restrictions are relaxed but said the "key difference" this time is that the rise in prevalence should be "sufficiently mitigated" by the successful vaccine rollout.
In another milestone for the fight against the pandemic, on Sunday figures showed more than 30 million people in the UK have now received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: "I'm absolutely thrilled that more than 30 million people have now had the jab across the UK - including 650,000 vaccinations delivered yesterday.
"The vaccine is saving lives and is our route out of this pandemic. I want to say a massive thanks to the team.
"When you get the call - get the jab."