People attending illegal house parties will face £800 fines from next week as police tighten their clampdown on coronavirus rule-breaking.
Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the hefty penalty just for people going to illicit events this evening as she lashed out at people aiding the spread of Covid.
The fines will double for each repeat offence, up to to £6,400, she announced as she fronted a Downing Street press conference.
She told the press conference: ‘Next week we will be introducing a new £800 fine for those attending house parties, which will double for each repeat offence to a maximum level of £6,400.
‘These fines will apply to those who attend illegal gatherings of more than 15 people in homes.
‘The science is clear: such irresponsible behaviour poses a significant threat to public health. Not only to those in attendance but to our wonderful police officers who attend these events to shut them down.’
Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the hefty penalty just for people going to illicit events this evening as she lashed out at people aiding the spread of Covid
She will be joined by a senior police officer and NHS medical director as Downing Street refuses to rule out making England’s shutdown even tighter
What types of hotels are used in ‘directed-isolation’ systems and who pays?
In other directed isolation systems – used in countries such as Australia and New Zealand – travellers are usually taken directly from the airport in an organised transfer.
They are then taken to a hotel. The hotels used in such systems are typically close to major airports and transport hubs.
Apartment hotels with their own cooking areas are particularly popular, because they enable families to isolate together.
Guests are allowed to order food in from local takeaway services or from the hotel themselves.
But it could be a costly fortnight for some travellers.
Since June, travellers to Australia have been forced to pay up to £1,500 for the two-week hotel stay in some parts of the country.
A similar system in the UK could also be self-funded by the traveller, or by travel insurance – if it covers such expenses.
Government officials have reportedly launched talks with hotel groups over the possibility of hosting incoming travellers following their arrival in the UK.
The move is said to be part of the Government’s effort to prevent the spread of mutant Covid strains in Britain – with officials fearing the variants could be resistant to the current vaccines.
The UK yesterday recorded its worst daily coronavirus death toll, with 1,820 fatalities.
Under such a scheme, arrivals could be forced to stay in designated hotels for up to 14 days. Food would be provided by the hotel or ordered in via a local takeaway service.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman today said that the Government was keeping ‘our measures and our border restrictions under review’.
‘We stand ready to strengthen our border policy,’ he said. ‘If there is anything further we need to introduce … we will take action.’
Similar systems have been used in Australia, which recorded just 204 new Covid cases in the last 14 days, and New Zealand, which recorded just 81 cases in the last fortnight.
If the UK does follow in the footsteps of Australia, it could be the traveller who foots the bill for the hotel stay.
Ms Patel will be accompanied tonight by Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, and Dr Vin Diwakar, NHS England regional medical director for London.
It comes as she faces scrutiny over her attitude to the border, after revealing this week that she clashed with Boris Johnson last March, saying the borders should be immediately closed.
The Prime Minister only this month introduced plans to make all arrivals, UK and foreign nationals, prove they had tested negative for coronavirus on arrivial/.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said today that the Home Secretary may have broken the ministerial code by advocating border closures against Government policy.
As a Secretary of State, Ms Patel must abide by the principle that ministers maintain a united front on positions after they have been agreed.
Asked about her comments on strengthening the border, Sir Keir told reporters: ‘That does call into question the ministerial code but it also calls into question the Prime Minister’s judgment.
‘She may have broken the ministerial code but that is secondary. The issue that matters here is has the Prime Minister, has the Cabinet, taken the measures necessary to secure our borders.
‘People are much more interested in that question than whether somebody has broken the ministerial code.’
Australia’s quarantine system and how a sex scandal prompted a second wave
Entry to Australia is closed except to citizens and those with an exemption – with all travellers required to quarantine for 14 days.
The quarantine takes place at a designated facility, such as a hotel.
Accommodation is pre-arranged and not up to travellers to book.
In some parts of the country, travellers are expected to pay toward the cost of their stay.
Testing takes place on day two and 10 of the isolation period, with a negative test allowing people to leave on day 14.
While 14 days is the standard amount of time in isolation, people who refuse to comply can be held for up to 24 days.
Last summer a second-wave of Covid in Melbourne was revealed to be caused by security guards at one of the designated facilities sleeping with quarantined guests and taking them to nearby shops.
Premier of the state of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, told the Herald Sun in July that there had been a ‘handful’ of breaches by staff at hotels including Stamford Plaza and Rydges on Swanston hotel, also in Melbourne, where isolated travellers were staying.
The scandal plunged Melbourne back into lockdown after 31 cases of Covid were linked to the Stamford Plaza.
It came as Covid cases dropped 15 per cent during the first week of England’s lockdown, according to official figures that offer more evidence that the blanket measure is working.
NHS Test and Trace data today showed 330,871 people tested positive for coronavirus across the country during the week ending January 13. For comparison, the figure stood at 389,191 in the first week of 2021.
It is the first week-on-week fall since the beginning of December, when cases dipped as England emerged from its second national lockdown.
But last week’s fall was not down to fewer tests being carried out — an extra 400,000 swabs were analysed in the most recent seven-day spell and the number of positives still dropped. It is another promising sign that the third lockdown, which began on January 5, is bringing England’s outbreak under control.
Although cases are high with tens of thousands more cases every day, infections have stopped rising at the rate they were in December when the virus was out of control.
But the figures come after a shocking study that today suggested England’s third lockdown isn’t working. Imperial College London’s REACT-1 mass-testing project estimated 1.58 per cent of England’s population had coronavirus in the first 10 days of lockdown, sparking fears that the current restrictions aren’t tough enough.
Dismissing the fears that even tighter measures are needed, scientists said the Imperial study does not prove that infections are rising because it missed out a drop from the second wave’s likely peak in December.
Researchers behind the study, which could be used to pile more pressure on Boris Johnson, hoped further testing in January would show infection numbers come down as the effects of lockdown properly set in.
Other studies tracking the Covid outbreak suggest more optimistic trends. Even Department of Health statistics show daily infections have plunged since the start of the lockdown, from an average of almost 60,000 to closer to 40,000.
Cambridge University estimates show that the R rate of the virus is likely below one, while Public Health England last week claimed cases dropped in all age groups. King’s College researchers also say cases have fallen ‘steadily’ since the New Year.
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