Priti Patel says Government is not bringing in new Covid rules 'today or tomorrow'

14 January 2021, 10:58

Priti Patel said ministers are focusing on "enforcing the rules&squot;
Priti Patel said ministers are focusing on "enforcing the rules'. Picture: Getty

By Maddie Goodfellow

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said that the Government is not bringing in new social distancing restrictions "today or tomorrow" and will instead focus on "enforcing the rules".

Ms Patel stressed that ministers are focusing on increasing the enforcement of current restrictions to keep the spread of coronavirus down rather than bringing in new measures.

Asked whether further restrictions could include a three-metre social distancing rule or the requirement to wear masks outside, she told ITV's This Morning: "The plans are very much to enforce the rules.

"This isn't about new rules coming in, we're going to stick with enforcing the current measures.

"We are not thinking about bringing in new measures today or tomorrow."

However, Ms Patel later appeared confused about coronavirus rules as she stressed the importance of exercising alone.

The guidance makes clear that in England someone is allowed to exercise outdoors with one other person from a different household.

Asked about the rules, Ms Patel said: "The clarity is exercising on your own and not socialising."

She added: "The point to make about any exercise - yes, it should be local, people exercise differently.

"But exercise on your own and don't use it for a social meeting."

She said "cycling is fine, because you are on your own, you should not be cycling with other people".

Ms Patel continued: "Running, exactly in the same way because you are on your own, walking on your own."

On Tuesday, London mayor Sadiq Khan told LBC over 10,000 Londoners have now died from Covid-19, as he called for tougher restrictions.

Speaking to LBC's Shelagh Fogarty, the London Mayor said: "It's heartbreaking that it's come to this, and this epidemic is far worse than it was back in Spring.

"The pressures on the NHS are far higher, yet the lockdown measures are much lighter.

"And so the leader of the London Councils which represent the 32 boroughs and myself have written again to the Prime Minister pleading with him to have additional restrictions on our city.

"I think that's the best way to save lives and to stop the NHS being overwhelmed."

Aside from the closure of places of worship, Mr Khan and London Councils chair Georgia Gould have called for the PM to make mask-wearing mandatory outside the home - including in supermarket queues, on high streets and in other possibly crowded outdoor settings.

Also among four major demands is for the Government to provide greater financial support for Londoners who need to self-isolate and are unable to work, backed by improved asymptomatic testing for key workers.

The two leaders also called for the the rollout of vaccines across London to be accelerated, and for the provision of daily vaccination data by borough and ethnicity.

Priti Patel's comments come just days after a police chief said forces "make no apology" for giving out fixed penalty notices after almost 45,000 were issued in the UK for breaking Covid rules.

Martin Hewitt, Chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council, added those who flout Covid rules are: "Dangerous, selfish, and totally irresponsible".

He added that forces across the country have been attending a number of illegal gatherings, including a party of 40 people - each of whom had paid £40 to attend - and issued at £10,000 fine to an organiser who claimed a house party was a business meeting.

Mr Hewitt told a Downing Street press conference people needed to take personal responsibility for their actions.

"We will carry on engaging with people, that's how we have done this from the beginning," he said.

"We will talk to people and we will explain.

But I think the rules are clear enough for people to understand, we are 10 months into this process."

While the regulations had shifted over time it was "very clear what people need to do".

"People need to accept the personal responsibility to act properly to prevent the spread of the virus."