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Government minister blames public for second nationwide lockdown

Conservative minister Robert Buckland. Photograph: BBC. - Credit: BBC

Robert Buckland has blamed the public for a second national lockdown after suggesting a lack of ‘compliance’ was the reason for harsher coronavirus measures.

The justice secretary said a “tiny group of people” had been breaking Covid-19 regulations and that there was a “huge challenge” to get the public to follow the rules this time around.

Speaking with the BBC, Buckland: “Sadly, it’s been difficult frankly regarding the compliance of some people with regard to the quarantine restrictions.”

He added: “I think it would be very ambitious of me to suggest that somehow we will be able to use the enforcement authorities to intervene in every case I think sadly that’s not possible.”

Buckland said “Covid marshals” were being trained and would be used alongside police to enforce the new restrictions despite admitting he had not seen any in force since they announced weeks ago.

“I think the message has to go out very clearly that this will only work if we all play our part. The majority of people do brilliantly, but we have to deal with that tiny minority who do not wish to support other people,” he said.

In the latest sign of a police crackdown, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said it would not “waste time” fining people not following the new regulations.

The NPCC’s Martin Hewitt said: “Not following the regulations and measures put in place to limit the spread of the virus is unacceptable. We won’t waste time with endless encouragement for those who knowingly or deliberately break the rules. People recklessly ignoring the regulations should expect to receive a fixed penalty notice.”

This comes after Priti Patel told police chiefs that the government wanted tougher actions against rule-breakers.

As it stands, anyone flouting the rules could receive a £200 fine for every breach that doubles on every offence, up to a maximum of £6,400, as well as £10,000 for large gatherings.

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