Home Secretary Priti Patel finally surfaced today to slap down overzealous police forces after they threatened to check people’s shopping for ‘non-essential’ items and set up road blocks to grill motorists on whether their trips are legitimate.
Ms Patel, who has not been seen or heard in public since March 23, said in an unexpected radio interview this evening that police must not act in a ‘heavy-handed’ manner during the coronavirus lockdown.
She also said the government will ‘absolutely not’ be further increasing police powers amid concerns about the way in which some officers have interpreted government guidance on breaking up groups and stopping frivolous journeys.
Some police chiefs are calling for laws to ban Britons from driving long distances and flouting rules to exercise more than once a day ahead of a 77F (25C) Easter weekend. Northamptonshire Police said the ‘three-week grace period is over’ and threatened that they may even soon start ‘checking the items in baskets and trolleys’.
Its Chief Constable Nick Adderley said: ’We will not at this stage be starting to marshal supermarkets and checking the items in baskets and trolleys to see whether it’s a legitimate and necessary item. But again, be under no illusion, if people do not heed the warnings, and the pleas that I’m making today, we will start to do that.’
And he added: ‘If things don’t improve, and we don’t get the compliance we would expect, then the next stage will be road blocks and it will be stopping people to ask why they are going, where they’re going.’
But asked about the prospect of police officers potentially checking shopping trolleys, Ms Patel told TalkRADIO: ’That is not appropriate, let me be clear on that… that is not the guidance.’
The Home Secretary said the police must use a ‘common sense’ approach to enforcing coronavirus restrictions.
Officers in Windermere, Cumbria, are already sending people in camper vans home, while locals in St Ives, Cornwall, blocked some roads to protect vulnerable residents. Police have also created online forms for people to report potential breaches of the lockdown which was imposed on March 23 to slow the spread of the deadly disease.
Merseyside Police said it will begin randomly stopping cars to ensure drivers are sticking to lockdown rules, amid revelations from Greater Manchester Police that they attended 494 house parties and 166 street parties in just four days last week despite a ban on social gatherings.
Priti Patel today urged police forces to act with ‘common sense’ during the coronavirus lockdown after suggestions that shoppers’ trolleys could be checked to make sure their purchases are essential
At least five chief constables are calling for the introduction of more stringent restrictions and clearer rules – including laws to enforce limiting exercise to a one-hour period outdoors after some people flouted it to sunbathe in parks or beaches.
Mr Adderley said forces are ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ when it comes to implementing the lockdown rules, and said the government guidance ‘could be even clearer’.
Reacting to the trolley claims made by Mr Adderley, ex-justice secretary David Gauke said they were ‘wholly inappropriate’ and reveal ‘worrying and unacceptable authoritarian instincts.’
Civil liberties campaigners were also furious, with Big Brother Watch director Silkie Carlo stating the ‘suggestion of police rummaging through people’s shopping trolleys is outrageous’ as she questioned what the legal basis would be for doing so.
Mr Adderley later attempted to clarify his remarks, tweeting: ‘To be clear on the shopping trolley issue: This is about essential and necessary journeys, not what’s in your trolley. I have been clear that we will not be judge and jury on what is an essential item or not, but we may now probe the purpose of the journey.’
The police have the power to issue fines to people who gather in groups during the lockdown. People are only supposed to go outside for food, medicine, to get to work, or for exercise once a day.
The emergency Coronavirus Act gave police powers to impose restrictions on ‘events and gatherings’ and it has been suggested that this could be used by forces in an attempt to justify road blocks.
However, the law does not include any provision that could force people to require prior permission, show paperwork, or demonstrate reasonable cause for leaving their home.
The UK is preparing for at least another three weeks in lockdown with politicians set to launch a Stay at Home This Easter campaign.
Ms Patel’s intervention came as:
- England, Scotland and Wales recorded 887 more coronavirus deaths today, taking Britain’s total to 7,984 as the coronavirus crisis continues;
- Downing Street said Britain was at a ‘critical juncture’ in the battle to curb the spread of the disease;
- The Government made clear there can be no early lifting of the strict social distancing rules, urging the public to ‘stick with it’;
- Boris Johnson’s condition is ‘continuing to improve’ after a third night in intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital in London where he is being treated for coronavirus.
Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable Nick Adderley (pictured today) said his force is only ‘a few days away’ from introducing road blocks and searching shopping trolleys
Police officers from North Yorkshire Police stop motorists in cars to check that their travel is ‘essential’, in line with the Government’s Covid-19 advice to ‘Stay at Home’ in York today
Ms Patel was asked this evening if she intended to give the police more powers, as some chiefs have demanded, but she was unequivocal in rejecting their pleas.
The Home Secretary said: ‘No, absolutely not. What I would say is that I speak to the police every day, in fact I am leading operational calls every single day with our blue light family.
‘I think first and foremost it is really important to recognise that the measures that we have put in place, you have got to remember this is now week three so to speak… and I would really like to pay tribute to the majority of the British people for doing the right thing in terms of staying at home.
‘And of course, lovely weather, we all love lovely weather, it is Spring, it is Easter, but at the same time, the police will always use a common sense approach.
‘We have policing by consent in the United Kingdom. The police are part of our local fabric in our community, they engage with the public and that is crucial in the way in which they engage, explain and encourage members of the public to really do the right thing.’
She added: ‘Enforcement will always be used as a last resort and I know that every police officer takes this responsibility very seriously.’
Ms Patel also hit out at reports that police had been ‘snooping through’ shopping baskets to remove Easter eggs.
Cumbria Police stopped this camper van in Windermere from the Devon area. A spokesman said the occupants were ‘given words of advice and escorted back to the M6 to go home’
A woman enjoys the sunshine as she sunbathes at Bath Parade car park in Cheltenham today
She said: ‘That is not what the police are there to do. The police are part of public order, part of the local community. But we are very conscious… in some parts of the country this has been difficult.
‘In beautiful parts of the country where people, tourists have been going, making the most of the nice weather. Also those with holiday homes etc, that is exactly what we want to avoid because that puts pressure on local communities.’
Devon and Cornwall Police are threatening to fine holidaymakers and second home owners who try to enter the area for the Easter weekend and refuse them entry. Locals have already told the council about 650 cases of holiday lets and second home owners who have arrived in Cornwall in the five days before the weekend.
Some police forces have also started to tape off park benches to stop people lingering outside.
Ms Patel said: ‘I will be very candid. Not everybody is going to get this right and it has taken a couple of weeks for these measures to bed in because this has been unprecedented… we want our public spaces to be respected and utilised in the right way.’
She added: ‘This is not about heavy-handed law enforcement. I think I really must emphasis that. There is a balance to this.’
The Home Secretary’s comments came as the government prepares to extend the coronavirus lockdown. Some ministers have been hoping for no more than a two-week extension from the initial estimated end date of April 16. But a minimum of three weeks now appears much more likely.
One of the areas of ongoing concern for ministers is that of the amount of traffic still on the nation’s roads. The government has warned against all non-essential travel but police have reported that road use in some parts of the country last weekend was up nearly a tenth compared to the previous weekend.
One unnamed police leader told The Guardian: ‘We need to say you can’t drive. The burden needs to be on the individual not the state to prove reasonableness.’
Another added: ‘There are still people coming down. People are still driving for a long time under the excuse of exercise and to places they do not need to be.
‘The Easter bank holiday is one of the busiest times of the year. I have no new powers for this weekend. There is a significant risk of people breaking the lockdown.’
Shoppers leave The Range in West Bromwich today after stocking up for the Easter weekend
Police officers talk to members of the public sitting on the grass at a Northampton park today
Police take away a man who was allegedly sitting outside an empty pub garden on the seafront in Brighton this afternoon
What powers do police have during Britain’s coronavirus pandemic?
Police have been issued with a wide range of new powers under the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations and the Coronavirus Act.
They can now detain someone to be tested if they are believed to be infectious, close non-essential businesses and restrict people’s right to move around and be part of a gathering.
Police can enforce the two key social distancing rules banning leaving your home ‘without reasonable excuse’ and being in a public gathering of more than two people.
Someone who refuses to follow the regulations under the Act such as ignoring a request to go home can be given an on-the-spot fine of £60, reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.
More fines can be issued if they keep breaking the law, up to a maximum of £960.
Police could even charge someone with the offence of breaching coronavirus regulations and disobeying a direction to follow them, which could lead to a court conviction and unlimited fine.
A reasonable excuse to leave home includes going shopping for essential food and medicine, one form of exercise a day and travelling to and from work, if ‘absolutely necessary’.
The official Government guidence on shopping says people can go out ‘for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible’.
Police chiefs are now hoping for more stringent rules to stop people driving long distances and legislation to enforce the order to limit exercise outdoors to once a day.
Police forces in Cambridgeshire, London, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Kent and Avon and Somerset have all brought in online services for the public to report potential breaches of the lockdown rules.
The announcement on the online forms from Cambridgeshire Constabulary faced some criticism online, with one person describing it as a ‘revolting’ idea.
But a spokesman for the force urged people to only use the form ‘if there is a significant issue or breach’.
Police forces in beauty spots across Britain have reported seeing visitors travel long distances from their homes to enjoy the recent warm weather.
People travelled far to spend time in Cumbria last weekend, while Malham Cove in North Yorkshire had visitors from Bradford, Leeds and Oldham – which is more than 50 miles away.
In the South West, Chief Superintendent Ian Drummond-Smith, police commander for Cornwall, warned non-residents to stay away from the area.
He said: ‘Our officers will be patrolling this weekend, firstly on the M5 and A30 in an attempt to prevent visitors from entering the force area, and then locally to enforce the restrictions.
‘We will do so in a fair and balanced manner, but travelling down to the West Country is a serious breach of these restrictions and those doing so can expect to receive a fine.’
Meanwhile a Cumbria Police spokesman said: ‘The Lake District is closed. Please do not travel to the lakes.’
North Wales Police added: ‘If you are planning an Easter getaway, please note North Wales is closed to visitors.’
In North Yorkshire, police and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan said: ‘If people don’t stick with the instructions then they [the Government] may well have to consider additional measures. Obviously there is concern. There are plans in place.’
Liz Saville Roberts, MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd in Snowdonia, said some tourists were trying to sneak in at night or use alternative roads to avoid detection.
Some are even just accepting a fine of £60 and driving onto their destination, with others sharing tips with each other on how to get in without police noticing.
Police in Cumbria turned around a family of two adults and four children who were visiting Windermere yesterday – and sent them back on the motorway to Leigh in Greater Manchester
Two men from Yorkshire were stopped in Windemere today after heading there to go canoeing
A police officer approaches a man using an outdoor gym at a park in Northampton today
Cumbria Police posted this picture yesterday of force patrol cars in the town of Alston
A block stopping people going down a pedestrian-only street in St Ives, Cornwall, asking them to use an alternative route instead to avoid vulnerable people
An overhead sign on the M8 in Glasgow advises people today not to travel this Easter weekend
A stream of people on Putney Embankment in South West London today enjoying the sunshine
The residents of Worth Matravers, on the Purbeck coast of Dorset, where a sign is pictured today, say there has been an influx of second home owners since the coronavirus took hold
Cornish shop owner says serve locals during lockdown – not tourists
A shop owner has launched a policy to only serve locals during the lockdown – and not tourists.
Julie Harrison runs a Spar shop in the Cornish town of Tintagel that is often inundated with holidaymakers.
She got so irate with people flouting the guidelines to avoid unnecessary travel that she has now introduced her own ‘locals only’ rule.
She said she was forced to take drastic measures as tourists were still visiting despite the Government’s warning.
The final straw was when one man came in looking to buy postcards and bragged about driving to Cornwall from Kent without being stopped.
Ms Harrison responded by putting up a sign in the window saying that people would not be served unless they could prove they were from the area.
She said: ‘We’re still full of holidaymakers despite the lockdown. You’d like to think they wouldn’t come but still they’re here. I put the sign up and it’s been really well received. Everyone in the village is so supportive of us.’
She told the Daily Telegraph: ‘We have accounts of people with holiday homes sharing advice with each other to travel at night to avoid the police, and even the people who don’t care if they’re fined when they travel – they’ve set out and they want to arrive.
‘The police are doing the best they can with the resources available and they do ask local people who have any reports of people travelling to such accommodation to contact them via email or via webchat.’
It comes as David and Victoria Beckham were criticised by locals for staying in the countryside at their second home in the Cotswolds during the lockdown.
Chef Gordon Ramsay also came under fire this week after relocating from London to Cornwall and regularly posting on Instagram from his £4million beachfront home.
The Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable said his force is only ‘a few days away’ from introducing measures such as road blocks and searching shopping trolleys as people continue to flout the coronavirus regulations.
He said a ‘three-week grace period’ is over in the county – and the force will now be issuing fines and arresting people breaking the rules.
He said further measures will also be implemented should people continue to flout the regulations – including ‘marshalling’ supermarkets and checking the items in baskets and trolleys.
People walk along the Thames Embankment at Putney in South West London this afternoon
Surfers at Fistral beach in Newquay, Cornwall, this morning ahead of a warm Easter weekend
A lack of traffic on the M5 motorway near Bristol this morning, which would normally be busy
Metropolitan Police officers were given free Easter eggs by staff at a Marks and Spencer store on the A127 at Havering in East London today. It comes a week after claims that over-zealous officers were trying to ban the items by classing them as ‘non-essential’ during the pandemic
Two police officers move in on a lone man they catch meditating on an empty beach
This is the moment two police officers moved in on a lone man they caught meditating on an empty beach.
Steve Dumaresq, who lives in a nearby flat, walked to the sandy beach at Bournemouth in Dorset for a ‘mindfulness’ session.
But his peace was shattered yesterday by the officers who made a beeline for him when they saw him lying down during the lockdown.
Mr Dumaresq said they had also interrupted around 15 minutes earlier when he had been attempting to meditate on a nearby clifftop.
He insisted he was doing nothing wrong in his meditation that is vital to his well-being and mental health.
Steve Dumaresq is spoken to by police in Bournemouth yesterday
Mr Dumaresq said: ‘I’m locked in all day and I just come to the beach for some fresh air to meditate. I live in an upper flat and there is no garden.
‘I like to think I know what is in my own best interests. I was actually being responsible and sensible by respecting myself, respecting others and social distancing.
‘I haven’t been sat within 50 metres of anybody else while doing it. It would be irresponsible of me not to come out otherwise I would be mentally unwell.
Mr Dumaresq was told he could not sit on the beach
‘The police said I was not allowed to sit on the beach because it is against the spirit of the situation and they asked me to move on. As far as I am aware I can’t see anything in the new laws to prohibit this. A lot of this is guidelines and guidelines aren’t legislation.’
Mr Adderley said forces are ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ when it comes to policing the new rules, and he added that Government guidance on how to police the rules ‘could be even clearer’.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, he said: ‘I really need to emphasise the point, this is about saving people’s lives, this is the really serious end of what we do.
‘The role of the police is to preserve lives and protect property and we have to do that and we will do that.
‘If things don’t improve, and we don’t get the compliance we would expect, then the next stage will be road blocks and it will be stopping people to ask why they are going, where they’re going.
‘This is about reasonableness and if people are not reasonable in terms of the journeys and the trips they are taking, they are going to fall foul of the law.
‘We will not, at this stage, be setting up road blocks. We will not, at this stage, start to marshal supermarkets and checking the items in baskets and trolleys to see whether it’s a legitimate, necessary item.
‘But again, be under no illusion, if people do not heed the warnings and the pleas I’m making today, we will start to do that.’
He stressed the force is ‘only a few days away’ from that point.
On the clarity of government guidance on policing the regulations, Mr Adderley said: ‘The law itself in terms of the five or six points that have come out in terms of the Coronavirus Bill – they are quite simple in terms of their narrative.
‘But the interpretation of that is very, very difficult.
‘The issue about, what is a necessary item, only go out for necessities – what is a necessity?
‘If we’re stopping somebody because they’ve bought a barbecue set or they’ve bought a child’s toy, you could argue that’s not necessary.
‘On the other hand, you could argue it absolutely is necessary – because in terms of the mental health and trying to keep people entertained over this period of lockdown, that is very necessary.
‘So the nuances and the interpretation is really ambiguous – that’s why I’m saying to officers, use your common sense, use your discretion.
‘I think the guidance could be even clearer, but it’s where do you draw the line?’
Road traffic levels this morning were similar to those seen in the past week, indicating that most people are staying at home on what is traditionally one of the busiest days of the year for leisure travel.
Analysis of data published by satellite navigation company Tom Tom showed there was no spike in congestion levels in cities such as Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Manchester.
An AA survey carried out shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic began suggested that around 26 million leisure journeys by road had been planned for the Easter weekend.
A chart used in last night’s Downing Street press conference showed how footfall at 17 major train stations had dropped 94 per cent between the first week and the last week of March
Police in Greater Manchester revealed they attended 494 house parties and 166 street parties last weekend despite the ban on social gatherings [CLICK TO EXPAND]
Although the vast majority of these trips are no longer taking place, some people have been caught not adhering to the lockdown guidance to avoid non-essential travel.
Stars in Manchester unite for Easter ‘stay home’ campaign
A selection of Manchester celebrities have shot home-made videos to urge people to stay at home over Easter because of the coronavirus.
Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and Michael Carrick, Manchester City’s Steph Houghton, Happy Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder and Coronation Street’s Dan Brocklebank have lent their support to the initiative, coordinated by Greater Manchester Police.
Boxer Anthony Crolla, Kyle Ross from the rock group Fuzzy Sun, and Lancashire county cricketer Keaton Jennings are also involved.
The videos, to be released across the long weekend, also feature key workers in the fight against Covid-19 including a nurse, a teacher, and police officers and staff.
The move comes after an increase last weekend in breaches of social distancing guidelines in the area.
‘Although the majority of the public across Greater Manchester have abided by the guidelines since they came into effect, last weekend saw a sharp increase in the number of Covid-19 breaches reported to police,’ Greater Manchester Police said in a statement.
‘Following this, high-profile voices from across Greater Manchester have joined together to support the #StayHomeSaveLives campaign to reinforce the importance of the Government message to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.
‘Traditionally, Easter weekend sees increased activity in and around public spaces – including places of worship, beauty spots and town centres – as well as large gatherings of families and friends at residential properties.
‘This year celebrations will differ, as we continue to follow Government guidelines and stay at home in an effort to help limit the transmission of Covid-19.’
Cumbria Constabulary caught several people travelling to the Lake District from outside the area.
These include a group travelling in two cars, one of which was a Lamborghini luxury sports car, who ‘decided it was too nice to stay in Bolton’.
Another incident involved a family of six from Leigh, Lancashire who were stopped in Windermere, advised to return home and escorted by officers back to the motorway.
Annie Willey, brand manager of the Suffolk Coast Destination Management Organisation, which represents local tourism companies, said residents have seen an ‘awful lot’ of second home owners coming to the area recently, particularly in Aldeburgh and Southwold.
This is something the tourism industry is ‘desperate to clamp down on’, she said. Ms Willey said anyone visiting over Easter was giving a ‘slap in the face’ to businesses which had battled ‘stress and pressure’ to close their doors because of the virus.
David Butterworth, chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: ‘Don’t be the person that thinks ‘I’ll pop to the Dales because it’ll be quiet’.
‘Don’t be the person that thinks, ‘it’s Easter, we can stay at the holiday house’. It’s unacceptable.’
Folkestone and Hythe District Council leader David Monk said: ‘Unfortunately a large number of day-trippers from outside the county visited our beauty spots last weekend.
‘Everybody should be following Government guidance and staying at home except for the reasons set out.’
Many of the UK’s most popular visitor attractions are offering a variety of virtual Easter activities to keep people busy while staying at home.
These include experiments by the Science Museum, services at Durham Cathedral, cookery suggestions from Waddesdon Manor and a scavenger hunt from the National Trust.
The virus lockdown is set to extend into May after the daily death toll surged to almost 1,000 yesterday.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan suggested a more stringent lockdown may follow, saying: ‘The Met Police will be busy patrolling parks and open spaces across London this weekend – urging Londoners to do the right thing and follow the rules.
Easter weekend will get off to a warm start before cooling off
Met Office meteorologist Luke Miall, said that the Easter weekend would get off to a warm start before gradually becoming cooler.
Temperatures could reach 24C (75F) or 25C (77F) in southern areas on Good Friday, with the risk of some showers in parts of Scotland, the North East and the Midlands by the afternoon.
The south will also be warm on Saturday, with conditions cooler elsewhere, and the risk of showers from mid-Wales northward as the day goes on.
On Easter Sunday temperatures will be cooler across the country and the focus of showers will be more on England and Wales.
By Monday temperatures will sink lower still, falling to around 14C (57F) or 15C (59F) in the South, with most places being drier.
Mr Miall said: ‘Despite the weather being tempting, the advice is to stay home and stay safe and remember to do that.’
‘I desperately want us to be able to keep our green spaces open for the millions of people that need them for essential walks and exercise – but that means everyone doing the right thing.’
Rishi Sunak confirmed last night that a planned review of the emergency measures will take place next week.
But, in a clear sign the restrictions will remain, the Chancellor said: ‘The priority is to stop the spread of the virus – and the best way to do that is to stay at home.’
One Government source said there was ‘no prospect’ of any easing of the lockdown next week.
Another said: ‘Look at the death toll. That puts the question of whether we’ll be lifting restrictions into context.’
The Easter weekend is typically one of the busiest for the UK’s roads and tourist destinations.
But an AA survey has suggested that more than 20 million Easter getaway journeys will be scrapped this year as families abandon holiday plans.
Rail companies Northern and TransPennine Express have joined forces with the British Transport Police to launch a campaign reminding people it is ‘not acceptable’ to use services for leisure activities this weekend.
A police traffic officers speaks to a group on the beach at Hastings in East Sussex yesterday
Police walk past members of the public enjoying the warm weather in Brighton yesterday
A coronavirus letter sent to all homes in Britain by the UK Government is pictured on Monday
Train operators have introduced amended timetables to help key workers get around and those needing to make essential journeys.
Cornish locals report up to 650 second home owners and Airbnb tourists as they flock to rural areas in lockdown
Hundreds of holiday lets and second home owners who have arrived in Cornwall ahead of the Easter weekend have been reported to the council.
Locals have highlighted some 650 cases of people ignoring the government’s lockdown orders in the past five days alone, according to The Times.
Since the nationwide measures to limit the spread of coronavirus were announced last month, the authorities have been stepping up efforts to deter day-trippers.
This includes police stopping cars and caravans on key routes into the area, such as the M5, as well as at service stations and beauty spot car parks.
Visitors spotted on coastal paths have also been quizzed by officers.
Rob Nolan, Cornwall council’s cabinet member for environment and public protection, told the newspaper some holiday accommodation owners were still trading but tourists using them have been told to return home.
‘The police are relying on unnecessary travel to stop the second home owners. They are going to ramp it up at the weekend,’ he said.
‘Locals are very anxious about people moving in next door to them.’
Most of the reports – made since the council asked for reports of lockdown rebels last Friday – have been about Airbnb rentals.
But they said passenger numbers ‘rose dramatically’ during last weekend’s good weather as some people ignored official advice and headed to the coast and beauty spots.
Superintendent Glen Alderson, of British Transport Police, said there would be an increased presence of officers at popular stations over the weekend to ensure people followed government advice.
Meanwhile, the National Trust also urged people to stay at home, with all its properties, gardens and beauty spots already closed during the nationwide lockdown.
In London, where good weather is predicted this weekend, people were reminded that the reduced service running on the capital’s transport network was there only for critical workers.
The number of people using Tube and rail services has plummeted by around 95%, while bus usage has fallen by around 85%, Transport for London said.
In Wales, first minister Mark Drakeford joined council leaders and emergency and health services in signing a letter addressed to the Welsh people urging them not to break lockdown rules.
They wrote: ‘These rules are there to protect you and your loved ones. For most people the virus will cause a mild illness, but there’s a large number of people – children, adults and grandparents – who are at risk of serious illness if they are exposed.’
In Northern Ireland on Wednesday, Stormont Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said: ‘I’m asking all of you to stay at home, which will in turn help protect our families, friends, neighbourhoods and the wider public from this terrible virus.’
Meanwhile it has been claimed that gang rivalries have been ‘put on hold’ and violence has ‘stopped’ as members follow the lockdown rules.
Police patrol the streets and the beach in Tynemouth last Saturday as the lockdown continues
Police stop to move on a couple with a pushchair on Primrose Hill in North London on Sunday
A police community support officer speaks with a member of the public in Brighton on Sunday
Sheldon Thomas, founder of the Gangsline Foundation Trust charity, told Sky News that county lines activity had dropped as police enforce the guidance.
Airbnb halts bookings in UK properties due to coronavirus crisis
Airbnb has blocked UK properties from accepting new bookings for the coming days unless they are for key workers.
The move comes after the accommodation site was criticised for advertising properties as suitable for guests to use to self-isolate during the coronavirus pandemic.
The firm said it has stopped properties from receiving new bookings up to at least April 18.
An exception will be made for its initiative which offers free stays for NHS staff and paid or subsidised stays for other key workers exempt from the Government’s travel restrictions.
Last week, Airbnb blocked private room bookings and temporarily removed the ability for whole properties to be instantly booked.
He said ‘cuckooing’, which sees dealers take over vulnerable people’s homes as a base, has also dropped thanks to the social distancing measures brought in.
There were growing concerns last night over the economic impact of coronavirus as the World Trade Organisation warned of the ‘deepest recession in our lifetimes’.
The British Chambers of Commerce warned that furloughing staff could cost taxpayers £50billion over the next three months.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for the PM, will hold a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee today to discuss the lockdown.
Mr Sunak said a UK-wide decision would not be taken until next week when the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies reports. He also admitted there would be economic ‘hardship ahead’.
Professor Stephen Powis of NHS England said the lockdown was working. But he added: ‘We have to continue following instructions, we have to continue following social distancing – if we don’t, the virus will start to spread again.’
Polling by King’s College London and Ipsos Mori showed nine out of ten people support the lockdown.
It’s MAD-chester! Greater Manchester Police shut down 494 house parties and 166 street gatherings with DJs, fireworks and BOUNCY CASTLES as covidiots flouted lockdown last weekend
Police in Greater Manchester have revealed they were called out to 494 house parties over four days despite the coronavirus restrictions.
Between Saturday and Tuesday, officers also had to deal with 166 street parties, 122 group gatherings for sporting activities and 173 gatherings in parks.
Police said some of the house parties even had bouncy castles, DJs and fireworks.
The figures were released as an appeal was launched, involving various personalities in the region, urging people to stay at home over the forthcoming Easter weekend.
Police in Greater Manchester have revealed they attended 494 house parties and 166 street parties last weekend despite the ban on social gatherings [CLICK TO EXPAND]
Among those sending home made video messages were Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, his former team-mate Michael Carrick, Manchester City player Steph Houghton, Dan Brocklebank who plays vicar Billy in Coronation Street and Happy Mondays singer Shaun Ryder.
The compilation also includes similar appeals from local key workers such as police officers and staff, a nurse and a teacher.
Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: ‘We understand the desire people will have to spend time with family and friends over the Easter period. ‘However it is vital that we follow the Government guidelines.
‘We must do this to protect ourselves, our families, our communities and the NHS by preventing the spread of this highly contagious infection.
Police confront a group about social distancing in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens on Sunday
‘I am incredibly grateful to all those who have provided their own homemade videos to lend their support to the #StayHomeSaveLives campaign because, as stressed by the Prime Minister, the single most important action we can take in fighting coronavirus is to stay at home in order to save lives.
‘I would encourage everyone to enjoy themselves at home with their loved ones but please don’t socialise beyond the immediate people that you live with.
‘Please don’t participate in other social gatherings inside or outside, no matter how big or small. ‘We are trying to engage, explain, and encourage everyone to follow the Government guidance.
‘However where people do not comply with the guidelines, we will use the legislative powers. ‘We hope that such actions will not be necessary and the public will work with us during this challenging time.’
Britons flocking to holiday homes to escape the worst of coronavirus outbreak face being turned back by police
- Police to patrol M5 and A30 in Devon to stop visitors entering the county
- Village shop near Gordon Ramsay’s holiday home forced to close to protect staff from people with ‘no regard for others’
- Fears that vigilantes in Wales could run people out of their second homes as feelings ‘run incredibly high’
- Councillors in Norfolk consider helping police set up roadblocks to keep visitors out
By James Fielding, Nick Constable, Tom Beford and Andy Young for MailOnline
A village shop in Trebetherick, near Gordon Ramsay’s second home in Cornwall, which had been providing food to locals, has been forced to shut due to the influx of outsiders
Britons flocking to holiday homes to escape the worst of the Covid-19 outbreak over the Easter weekend now face being turned back by police.
How holiday home owners in Cornwall are sneaking into their properties under cover of darkness
Holiday home owners in Cornwall have been sneaking into their properties under cover of darkness but parking their cars elsewhere to look as though they are not in, MailOnline has been told.
Cornwall councillor Carol Mould, who has lived in Rock all her life, said: ‘I understand the frustration of local people.
‘Our number of coronavirus cases has been pretty low up until now but that could change overnight with an influx of holidaymakers.
‘We know 58% of properties here are second homes and occupancy has increased massively over the last week. I dare not think what is coming over the Easter weekend.
‘We don’t want to alienate second-home owners or holidaymakers and of course in normal times they’re very welcome.
‘But when you see people sneaking in at dead of night and unloading shopping in the dark in the hope no one will notice – it is disappointing.
‘Some even park their car where they think it is out of sight. But we’re a close-knit community with people who care about each other. We know who is and isn’t local.’
Celebrities and politicians with holiday homes in the area include chef Gordon Ramsay and ex PM David Cameron. Fifty Shades author E.L. James has also built a stunning holiday home nearby.
Mrs Mould added a system of reporting second home owners to Cornwall Council was up and running so and council officers are making house calls to check who is staying.’
One permanent resident at Daymer Bay told Mail Online: ‘We have holiday-home owners here who are simply selfish.
‘One came down before the lockdown. But since then at least four separate groups of his friends have turned up.’
The two west country National Parks of Exmoor and Dartmoor are also seeing a backlash against second-home occupancy.
In Withypool, Somerset, an isolated Exmoor village, grocery and tea shop owner Tony Howard said he feared fury directed at outsiders could spill over into vigilante action.
He said: ‘There is a lot of anger among our locals.
‘We’re right at the centre of it and we feel it every day as we try to keep customers’ food orders going.
‘This village survives off tourism. But if we know of anyone who has taken a holiday let recently we tell them to go home.
‘There are villagers talking about running them out of Exmoor. There’s also a Facebook page where you can report them.’
In Devon the sight of second-home owners continuing to flock to coastal properties has outraged many locals.
Conservative county councillor Paul Crabb of Ilfracombe echoed fears of unrest and said: ‘We rely on tourism and we’re desperate to welcome people back when this is all over.
‘Right now the mood has turned ugly. I’m hearing veiled warnings of direct action against second-home owners.
‘The last thing we need is pitchfork vigilantes taking matters into their own hands.
‘We are lobbying MPs and government to take much tougher action against people travelling to a holiday home.’
Londoners fleeing the capital, the UK’s coronavirus epicentre, for second properties in Devon and Cornwall could be made to turn round after driving for five-hours.
Officers will be patrolling a stretch of the M5 motorway near Exeter to stop those they suspect of flouting government rules on travel during the lockdown from entering Devon.
They will also be conducting checks on the busy A30, the 300-mile route which runs from the outskirts of London through both Devon and Cornwall to Land’s End and on other roads in both counties issuing fines to those who have managed to avoid detection.
The move follows anger at those escaping towns and cities where Covid-19 is rampant to quieter areas in the countryside and on the coast – potentially spreading the virus.
Gordon Ramsay sparked outrage after it was revealed this week that the celebrity chef had taken his family to £4million mansion in Trebetherick, Cornwall.
In a bid to halt this exodus, the Gold Commander for Devon and Cornwall Police, Assistant Chief Constable Glen Mayhew, said: ‘As we look to the bank holiday weekend I wish to be clear with
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