Laura Kuenssberg says UK won’t change lockdown schedule
On February 22, Boris Johnson announced his roadmap to gradually easing lockdown restrictions in England, providing a much-needed boost and a huge sign of relief to 57 million people throughout the country. But worrying scenes over recent days have shown a return of “Covidiots” gathering closely in large groups and subsequently breaking the rules – potentially putting at risk all the hard work during lockdown over the last three months. Restrictions introduced on January 4 ban people from leaving their homes to meet anyone outside their household or support bubble and also reaffirm the two-metre social distancing rule.
In England and Northern Ireland, fines for those breaking lockdown restrictions start at £200. Fines start at £60 in Wales, and in Scotland, although this is reduced to £30 if paid within 28 days.
Police also have the power to shut down large parties, and issue fines of up to £10,000 while in extreme circumstances, be prosecuted and face an even greater fine imposed by a court.
But on Monday evening, large crowds were pictured on Swansea Promenade following reports of anti-social behaviour, which left locals feeling “frightened” and “threatened”.
Pedestrians on Marine Walk, located close to the observatory, claimed there were “over 100 youths” at one point.
Lockdown poll: With the end in sight, should penalties for Covidiots be increased?
Lockdown poll: Londoners flocked to parks at the weekend
Current lockdown rules state people must stay at home, except for very limited purposes.
But one person told WalesOnline a fight had broken out and youths were throwing glass bottles”, although South Wales Police said that they did not receive any reports of assault.
A spokeswoman for South West Police said: “We received reports of anti-social behaviour and group of around 30 youths gathering along the seafront yesterday evening.
“Upon attendance the youths dispersed. We will be increasing patrols in the area and would like to remind everyone that anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated and that Covid-19 legislation is in place to keep us all safe.
READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon no longer relevant to Scottish independence bid
Lockdown poll: Large groups gathered together overlooking the City of London
“Anyone who witnesses anti-social behaviour should call us on 101.”
This followed further disturbing events on Sunday, with youths reportedly ripping up plants, setting fires and smashing glass bottles at the sand dunes in Swansea.
At the weekend, Britain had basked in glorious sunshine, but tens of thousands of people still ignored appeals to stick to Covid restrictions and flocked to parks and beaches.
Images seen by Express.co.uk showed London Fields in Hackney packed with large gatherings – against current guidance, which states only two people can meet outside for exercise purposes.
BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg crushes hope of early lockdown end [COMMENT]
Eurozone economy headed for devastating double-dip recession [DATA]
Sunak budget praised but MPs warn only solution is ending restrictions [OPINION]
Lockdown poll: Hge groups of people gathered at a park in London
Video footage obtained by this website also showed people sitting down together as they enjoyed the sunshine in east London.
Just hours earlier, England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam had urged people across the country to stay disciplined and “don’t wreck it now”.
He warned there were “some worrying signs that people are relaxing” in the coronavirus battle at “exactly the wrong time”.
Professor Van-Tam said: “All the patients that I vaccinate I say to them, ‘Remember, all the rules still apply to you and all of us until we’re in a much safer place’.
“It doesn’t change because you’ve had your first dose of vaccine.
Can’t see the survey below? Click here.
“And so, please don’t be tempted to think, ‘Well, one home visit might be all right now the weather is getting better, going to be a nice weekend, one small gathering in your house won’t really matter’.
“So my key message tonight is look, this is all going very well but there are some worrying signs that people are relaxing, taking their foot off the brake at exactly the wrong time.”
Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) behavioural scientist Professor Susan Michie warned people may follow the lockdown restrictions less strictly after getting vaccinated for coronavirus.
More than 21 million people throughout the UK – almost a third of the total population – have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
But Professor Michie warned: “The concern is that as the vaccination programme rolls out and more people are getting vaccinated themselves and seeing other people in their community getting vaccinated, that people may drop their guard.”
Lockdown poll: The earliest dates for reopening in England
From next Monday, youngsters will begin returning to schools and colleges, and you will be able to meet one other person outdoors for a coffee or picnic.
Three weeks later, you will be able to meet up to six people, or two households outdoors, while the “Stay at home” order will be replaced with “Stay local”.
Other dates of note are April 12, when non-essential retail will reopen and table service allowed at beer gardens and outdoor seating at restaurants for groups of up to six or two households.
May 17 will see the “Rule of Six” lifted outdoors with gatherings of up to 30 allowed, indoor mixing allowed for up to six people or two households, with indoor restaurants and hotels reopening.
Then five weeks later on June 21, all legal limits on social distancing will come to an end.