With coronavirus cases continuing to rise in most parts of the country, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has not ruled out lockdown rules being tightened. England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has warned the NHS faces the ‘most dangerous situation’ in living memory, with record-breaking deaths and hospital admissions following the virus. As of Monday morning, it seems unlikely that many foreclosure rules will be changed in bulk. This means that some things like curfews seem unlikely even though Matt Hancock refused to rule them out. But ministers are confident there could be tighter tightening and enforcement. Pressed on possible restrictions, Mr Hancock told the BBC: “I don’t want to speculate because the most important message is not whether the government will tighten the rules further.” The most important thing is that people stay at home and follow the rules. That we have. “And that, in terms of the magnitude of the impact on the cases, is the most important thing that we can collectively do as a society.” Union leader Sir Keir Starmer believes the lockdown rules ‘may not be strict enough’, while Professor Peter Horby, chair of the advisory group on new and emerging respiratory virus threats, said existing measures may need to be further strengthened. He told the BBC: “Now we’re in a situation where everything that was risky in the past is riskier now, so we’re going to have to be very, very strict on the measurements.” Whether the current restrictions are sufficient, I think it remains to be seen. It will take a week or two before that becomes clear. “They may be sufficient, but we have to be very vigilant and if there is any sign that they are not, we will have to be even stricter, I’m afraid.” We look at the different ways the rules could be changed or tightened – some more likely than others. Stricter Enforcement in Supermarkets While ministers say they don’t want to make the lockdown itself even stricter, it has been reported that they plan to tighten enforcement, including in supermarkets. A minister said this could include ensuring there are queues outside supermarkets and one-way systems inside, such as during the first lockdown. Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News that “we don’t want to go any further” with the lockdown rules themselves, but they would be enforced more tightly. “At the end of the day, the most important thing to do now is to make sure that the effective enforcement and of course the observance of the rules when people go to supermarkets are respected,” he said. He added: “We are concerned that, for example, in supermarkets, we have to make sure that people actually wear masks and follow the rule of the one-way system in supermarkets, and of course when are at full capacity, to operate safely people are waiting outside supermarkets. ” I don’t want to go any further because it’s quite a difficult lockdown. What we need is for people to act like they have the virus so that we can bring this virus.
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