Speaking on ITV Good Morning Britain, the Manchester Mayor claimed police officers had already arrested individuals who had hosted house parties in the last two weeks and would be prepared to do so again and again if coronavirus lockdown rules are ignored. He said: “The vast majority of people are staying close to the rules, staying at home, doing the right thing. But there were these isolated incidents last weekend, that’s why the Chief Constable publicised that yesterday.
“We are 24-hour party people here but I’m saying to everyone who lives here not to for this weekend and not for the foreseeable.
“We’re heading into the worst of this crisis so to lose our discipline would be absolutely crazy thinking right now.
“We need to be tough right now. And I would say to the police take a firm line.
“They actually arrested and charged somebody under the COVID-19 legislation for holding one of those house parties last weekend.
“And that’s the message we are sending out. We’re pleading with people don’t do it this weekend. But if you do, we will take firm action against you.”
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Although the Government has said the lockdown is broadly being well-observed and reducing the spread of the virus, the nation’s resolve has already been tested by unseasonably warm weather, with more forecast over the next few days.
British police have warned they will use their enforcement powers against those who flout the restrictions.
Police in Manchester said almost 500 house parties and more than 600 other incidents had been reported to them in the two weeks to April 7.
“We are trying to engage, explain, and encourage everyone to follow the government guidance,” Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said.
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“However, where people do not comply with the guidelines, we will use the legislative powers.”
A YouGov poll showed 42 percent of the public fully supported the way police have enforced the lockdown, although 32 percent thought backed officers’ approach but thought they had sometimes gone too far.
One regional police force on Thursday had to retract a warning that it could start checking people’s shopping baskets to ensure they were only buying essential items.
“That’s not appropriate, let me be clear about that,” interior minister Priti Patel told talkRADIO on Thursday.
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“What we should just say about this weekend, in particular, is the weather is going to be good, it’s Easter, we really do need to all take responsibility here, and it’s not about overreach.”
Britain is enduring its third week of the most stringent peacetime restrictions on daily life in its history, during which people have been ordered to stay at home and police were given powers to punish those who break the rules.
“Everyone has a role to play in this, and the best way we can protect our loved ones is by staying away this Easter,” a government spokeswoman said.
“We understand that people will want to spend time with their friends and families this Easter, and we recognise that we are asking the public to make sacrifices in the fight against this disease.”
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