'Stop blaming the public': Independent SAGE member blasts Priti Patel for new fines

21 January 2021, 18:36 | Updated: 21 January 2021, 18:38

By Fiona Jones

Independent SAGE member Professor Christina Pagel was "so angry" after hearing about the new £800 fines for Covid rule-breakers, calling for Priti Patel to "stop blaming the public."

People attending illegal house parties will face a new £800 fine from next week that could rise to £6,400 for repeat offenders, Priti Patel has announced.

These fines will be issued to people attending illegal indoor gatherings of 15 people or more.

Health research mathematician and Independent SAGE member Professor Christina Pagel told Eddie that the announcement "made her so angry."

"They've been doing this for weeks and weeks as if people just aren't obeying the rules, that's not what's happening," she said.

"The rules are just much laxer this time than they were in March. We've got loads more people going out to work, you can see that from Facebook mobility data, Google mobility data, TfL data. We've got more kids in school, we've got more shops allowed to be open.

"If they don't want people to go out and transmit the virus, change the rules and stop blaming people," Prof Pagel said, branding the Government "irresponsible."

Eddie countered that some may appreciate the Government cracking down on this issue.

Professor Pagel countered: "But it's: what do you choose to highlight in a time when we have the world's worst death rate? You're highlighting a tiny minority of people doing things which are already against the rules.

"Instead of actually saying people are keeping to the rules, perhaps we have to be a bit stricter about how many kids are in school, about workplaces.

"Are we actually helping people to stay at home if they're sick? We know that low income people are less likely to get tests because they can't afford to isolate."

Professor Pagel told Eddie that it is issues such as these that are creating the high number of Covid cases and deaths.

"Why not deal with the actual problem instead of trying to have these big headlines about house parties when that's just not the issue?" she asked, questioning how people are meant to follow a Government that never "learns from their mistakes" or "admits when they've made a mistake."

Reacting to the latest announcement, Professor Pagel wrote on Twitter: "Oi Priti et al - STOP BLAMING THE PUBLIC! illegal parties are rare! large majority people complying. YOU have allowed people to do far more than in Spring. Blame the rules not the public.

"Oh and pay people properly to isolate so that they can afford to get tested & stay home."