How could England's lockdown restrictions get tougher?

Boris Johnson has warned that tougher lockdown measures may be needed if people continue to defy the rules - but how could restrictions be stricter?

Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 6:00 pm
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 07: British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson speaks during a virtual press conference at No.10 Downing Street on January 7, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Tolga Akmen - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

After a surge in coronavirus cases and a record high of covid-19 patients in hospitals across England, government ministers are threatening tougher lockdown measures in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

The Health Secretary pleaded with people to follow lockdown rules and told the public to reduce all social contact that is “not absolutely strictly necessary.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that stricter lockdown measures may be needed as he stressed “now is the moment for maximum vigilance”.

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So how could the rules in England get tighter?

Exercise

The current lockdown measures allow you to exercise outside once a day but unlike in March, you’re allowed to exercise with one other person from outside your household as long as you social-distance.

But after crowds were pictured on beaches and in parks this rule could be restricted further with a ban on meeting of households.

Matt Hancock told a Downing Street briefing: “Yes, you can go and exercise in the park with one other person, but only one other person.

“And we have been seeing large groups and that is not acceptable. And you should be two metres apart from the other person.

“If there are too many people breaking this rule then we are going to have to look at it.”

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Face masks

Face masks are currently only mandatory in shops and supermarkets but this rule could be extended to make face coverings mandatory in offices and in crowded outside spaces.

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty has indicated there may be some logic to people wearing masks if they are in close proximity for longer periods, like huddled around market stalls.

Supermarkets

There have been suggestions that shoppers have not been fully complying with face covering and social distancing rules in supermarkets.

Tesco, Asda and Waitrose are the latest supermarkets to take a tougher stance on customers who refuse to wear a face covering without a medical exemption, and implored shoppers to be respectful towards staff.

Tougher measures on social distancing and shopper numbers, which are not currently law, could be made so if compliance does not improve.

Three metres

Scientists advising the Government want the social distancing gap to be increased from “one metre plus” to “two metres plus”, according to the Daily Mail.

At the start of social distancing measures in England, the Government advised people to keep two metres apart but this was lowered to one metre plus in July after the first lockdown ended.

How rule breakers are dealt with

As emphasis grows on people following the coronavirus rules, Britain’s most senior officer has warned that officers will move “swiftly” to fine people who blatantly ignore lockdown rules.

Crime and Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said the Government was closely monitoring the numbers of cases before deciding whether further measures were needed for England.

Mr Malthouse said officers would be adopting a new “high-profile” approach to enforcing the rules.

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