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Police forces in England have already warned they are not prepared to knock on doors on Christmas Day to catch families flouting tough new Tier 4 lockdown rules – just hours after the new measures were announced.
Metropolitan Police Federation boss Ken Marsh has described the new measures – which see people banned from travelling in or out of Tier 4 regions, shops forced to close, and the public ordered to work from home – as “baffling”.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that a new strain of coronavirus had forced the government to perform a U-Turn on allowing families to mix for five days over Christmas in worst hit areas and to implement a new Tier level in the fight against Covid-19.
The new restrictions – which also see a ban on overnight stays in highly infected cities and counties – are due to come into effect from midnight tonight.
Hitting out at the new plans, Mr Marsh told the MailOnline: “It doesn't make sense. It's going to be no different now from how it was.
“We're not going to be knocking on people doors on Christmas Day. We have no power of entry.
“It's just a shame because I don't think people are going to take much notice. You've lost the goodwill of the public. They're so frustrated.”
Londoners could risk arrest if they leave capital after midnight amid Xmas exodus
Meanwhile, National Police Chiefs' Council Chair, Martin Hewitt, told the publication: “These restrictions will be upsetting for many after a very challenging year, but most people will want to do what they can to protect public health and the health of their loved ones.
“We urge everyone to follow the rules in their area, and as throughout the pandemic, we are confident that the majority of people will continue to do their best to adapt and do the right thing.”
Mr Hewitt went on to warn: “Those who blatantly ignore the regulations should expect to receive a fixed penalty notice.”
The new restrictions have come into force after scientists discovered a new strain of coronavirus could be as much as 70% more infectious – while 60% of new infections in London alone were found to be that of the new strain.
England’s Chief Medical Office, Chris Whitty, did, however, state there is no evidence so far that the new strain is more fatal or resistant to the current Covid-19 vaccine that started rolling out the UK this month.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock expressed his regret that new measures had to be implemented to help fight the new strain of the virus – but called on the public to get behind the tougher Tier system.
He wrote on Twitter: “The scientific evidence on the new variant of #coronavirus is sobering.
“If you are in Tier 4, from tomorrow you must stay at home to protect the NHS & save lives.
“Thank you to everyone playing their part in the national effort.”
Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, parts of Surrey, the boroughs of Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings, all 32 London boroughs and the city of London, Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire and parts of Essex are the first areas of the UK to be plunged into Tier 4 from midnight.
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