UK police to be 'quicker' to enforce coronavirus lockdown rules: official

LONDON, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- British police will be "quicker" to enforce restriction rules during England's national lockdown amid mounting concerns over some of the public bending the curb rules, a senior British official said Tuesday.

People sit at a social distance from one another on a bench on the top of Primrose Hill in London on January 12, 2021. (Photo: AFP)

Kit Malthouse, the crime and policing minister, said it was up to the public to abide by the restrictions as the country faces a "severe" crisis.

Police have been pursuing a "four Es" strategy during the coronavirus shutdown, by engaging, explaining, encouraging and then, as a last step, enforcing lockdown measures, Malthouse told Sky News.

"If people play by the rules and they recognize the police are doing a difficult job in very challenging circumstances, and cooperate, then hopefully the four 'Es'; encourage, all that kind of stuff, before we get to enforcement, will have an effect," he was quoted as saying.

"But I think you will find that the police are quicker to move to enforcement. That's certainly what they have indicated is their intention," he said, adding that he hoped there wouldn't be an increase in the number of fines or arrests.

"Because we really, really have to recognize how severe the problem is and the fact we are in our worst position for some time," he said.

England is currently under the third national lockdown since the pandemic began in the country. Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty warned Monday that the "most dangerous time" of the COVID-19 pandemic in Britain has yet to come before vaccine rollout has an impact.

The next few weeks will be "the worst" of the pandemic for the National Health Service (NHS), he said, urging the public to minimize all unnecessary contact with others.

Another 46,169 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 3,118,518, according to official figures released Monday.

Another 529 have died within 28 days of a positive test, bringing the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain to 81,960, the data showed.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.