Public urged to 'be sensible' as new restrictions spark fears of parties

11 September 2020, 17:42 | Updated: 11 September 2020, 17:43

File photo: Groups of people gather in Soho, London
File photo: Groups of people gather in Soho, London. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

Police have urged the public to “be sensible” this weekend amid worries that people may have parties prior to the introduction of new restrictions on Monday.

Forces already have the power to fine people £10,000 for organising gatherings of more than 30 people, but police said they remain concerned.

From Monday this maximum number will drop to six people.

Read more: 'More than 40 MPs' lining up against rule of six limit on gatherings, Tory MP says

Brian Booth, chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, told Sky News illegal raves are a "really big concern" ahead of the weekend.

"These are getting out of hand - we're having several cases every weekend of these illegal raves," Mr Booth said.

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"We try and get in quick and deal with them but we can't stop them all. I can say simply that the police just do not have the resources to keep everyone in line.”

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation echoed these concerns: "We're going to have to monitor it carefully.

"The weather's going to be nice, which doesn't help in this sort of situation, which tends to get people out and about.

"But I hope people are going to be sensible,” he added, "it's all new and very rapid, the speed that it's changing… we've just got to go with it and hope we can keep control and the public understand what is required."

In the West Midlands, where leaders hours ago announced further restrictions on people meeting in houses, the deputy police and crime commissioner Waheed Saleem urged young people to “enjoy the weekend in a safe way”.

Flouting of social distancing and contact tracing rules in pubs, bars and restaurants has also been highlighted as a reason for a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases in the region.

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The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC), Martin Hewitt said: "As we start to see a rise in infections it is vitally important that we all follow the regulations and restrictions in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"Officers will continue to be out in communities - engaging, explaining and encouraging people to act responsibly."

Data released on Friday by the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) shows the estimate for R across the UK is between 1.0 and 1.2.

An average of 3,200 people per day were estimated to be newly infected with Covid-19 between August 30 and September 5, the ONS said.

This is up from an average of 2,000 people per day between August 19 and 25.

Government scientific advisors have described the figures as a "wake-up call", saying additional measures such as local interventions may be needed to control the spread of the virus.