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COVID-19: ‘Stubborn number’ of people still refusing to follow coronavirus rules | Politics News

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COVID-19: 'Stubborn number' of people still refusing to follow coronavirus rules | Politics News

A “stubborn number” of people are still refusing to follow the rules during England’s third coronavirus lockdown, the chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council has said.

Speaking at a Downing Street news conference, Martin Hewitt said forces across the UK have issued almost 45,000 fines for breaches of COVID-19 rules.

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Police release footage of COVID-19 breaches

Appearing alongside him was Home Secretary Priti Patel, who insisted the current restrictions were “very simple and clear” as well as being “tough enough”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has kept open the possibility of further action, warning the government “may have to do more” if ministers feel restrictions “are not being properly observed”.

As the debate surrounding the potential introduction of even tougher measures continues, there has been renewed focus on whether police forces should take a tougher stance when it comes to enforcing the rules.

Crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse told Times Radio earlier that officers would be adopting a new “high-profile” approach, which could include stopping people out and about and asking them why they are not at home.

Chief Constable Hewitt said officers will not “waste time” trying to reason with individuals who display “no regard” for the safety of others.

He said recent examples of “irresponsible behaviour” included a boat party in Hertfordshire that was attended by more than 40 people – and a minibus of people from different households travelling into Wales from Cheltenham for a walk.

“Organising parties or other large gatherings is dangerous, selfish and totally irresponsible in light of the current threat that we face,” Chief Constable Hewitt said.

“Organisers will be fined. But so too will the people who choose to attend.

“Not wearing a face covering on a bus or a train is dangerous. It risks the lives of other travellers including those critical workers who must continue to use public transport to do their important work. So on those systems, unless you are exempt, you can expect a fine.”

He said officers would “carry on engaging with people”, but suggested they would have less tolerance for breaches given the UK has been living with COVID-19 restrictions for almost a year now.

“We will talk to people and we will explain. But I think the rules are clear enough for people to understand, we are 10 months into this process,” he said, adding that people needed to take “personal responsibility” for their actions.

The home secretary said the “horrifying” number of coronavirus deaths showed the need for people to abide by the rules, with a further 1,243 deaths reported on Tuesday.

Ms Patel said “most of the public” are doing this, but “a minority of people are putting the health of the nation at risk by not following the rules”.

She added: “My message today to anyone refusing to do the right thing is simple: if you do not play your part, our selfless police officers – who are out there risking their own lives every day to keep us safe – they will enforce the regulations.

“And I will back them to do so, to protect our NHS and to save lives.”

Ms Patel revealed that cabinet colleague Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, has spoken with local councils “about the role that they have to play in enforcing the rules”.

“We are now at a critical stage in our battle against this virus,” she continued.

“To protect those that you care about, and the capacity of our hospitals to protect us all, please stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.”

The home secretary faced multiple questions at the news conference about whether the rules were clear enough to understand and tough enough to get the virus under control.

“The British public are absolutely sensible, they are conscientious, they understand the stay at home message,” she said.

However, there have been suggestions in recent days that the directive to “stay local” for exercise is not clear enough and open to varying interpretations about what distance you are allowed to travel to undertake it.

Derbyshire Police initially fined two women £200 each for travelling separately to a reservoir for a walk around five miles from their homes, before apologising and rescinding their fixed penalty notices.

On Sunday, the PM was spotted cycling at the Olympic Park in east London, which is seven miles from Downing Street.

Asked about both of these incidents, Ms Patel said “we all have to exercise our judgment and be very conscientious as to how we act”.

She added: “When it comes to exercising, I do say stay local – staying local is absolutely crucial.”

Referencing Mr Johnson, the home secretary said it was important to stay away from other people “which is clearly what the prime minister did when he was taking his daily exercise”.

“I think, quite frankly, we all have to ask ourselves what can we do to keep everyone safe and absolutely reduce our contact with each other.”

Chief Constable Hewitt said it would be “challenging” to define how far people can travel to exercise.

“I don’t think we are in a position where we want to set a particular distance because how would – if a police officer stopped somebody – prove that a person is within or outside that distance,” he said.

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COVID-19: Medics call for emergency law to protect them from ‘unlawful killing’ cases | UK News

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COVID-19: Medics call for emergency law to protect them from 'unlawful killing' cases | UK News

Medics are calling for emergency legislation to protect them from “inappropriate” legal action over COVID-19 treatment decisions made under pressure of the pandemic.

A group of health organisations has written to the government urging it to update the law to ensure medical workers do not feel “vulnerable to the risk of prosecution for unlawful killing” when treating COVID-19 patients “in circumstances beyond their control”.

Hospitals in all NHS regions in England are already at, or near, the 92% bed capacity that NHS Improvement deems as being the safety threshold, and hospital admissions are rising in many areas.

The medics have argued there is no legal protection for COVID-related issues such as when there are “surges in demand for resources that temporarily exceed supply”.

The letter is addressed to Health Secretary Matt Hancock and was co-ordinated by the Medical Protection Society (MPS), and signed by the British Medical Association, Doctors’ Association UK, the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin and Medical Defence Shield.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned this week there was a “very substantial” risk of hospital intensive care units being overwhelmed as more people are admitted than during the latest wave of coronavirus cases.

The medics’ letter says Mr Johnson warned in November of a “medical and moral disaster” if the NHS was overwhelmed and “doctors and nurses could be forced to choose which patients to treat, who would live and who would die”.

The health groups wrote: “With the chief medical officers now determining that there is a material risk of the NHS being overwhelmed within weeks, our members are worried that not only do they face being put in this position but also that they could subsequently be vulnerable to a criminal investigation by the police.”

They said current guidance covering decisions on whether to administer or withdraw treatment “neither provides nor claims to provide legal protection”.

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‘COVID patients getting younger and sicker’

“It also does not consider COVID-19-specific factors such as if and when there are surges in demand for resources that temporarily exceed supply,” the letter adds.

“There is no national guidance, backed up by a clear statement of law, on when life sustaining treatment can be lawfully withheld or withdrawn from a patient in order for it to benefit a different patient, and if so under what conditions.

“The first concern of a doctor is their patients and providing the highest standard of care at all times.

“We do not believe it is right that healthcare professionals should suffer from the moral injury and long-term psychological damage that could result from having to make decisions on how limited resources are allocated, while at the same time being left vulnerable to the risk of prosecution for unlawful killing.”

The groups acknowledged that no healthcare professional should be “above the law” and emergency legislation should only apply to decisions “made in good faith” and “in circumstances beyond their control and in compliance with relevant guidance”.

They agreed the emergency law should be temporary and apply retrospectively from the start of the pandemic.

Many medics have been working outside their usual practice as hospitals struggle to cope with rising numbers of patients.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to view the vaccination programme at Chase Farm Hospital in north London, part of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. The NHS is ramping up its vaccination programme with 530,000 doses of the newly approved Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine jab available for rollout across the UK.
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Boris Johnson said medics could be forced to choose who to treat and who to let live

In November, the UK’s four chief medical officers, the NHS, the General Medical Council (GMC) and medical royal colleges wrote to doctors saying regulators would “take into account” the environment doctors are working in, while “due consideration” would be given to difficult circumstances” they might face.

A survey of 2,420 MPS members between 8 and 12 January found 61% were concerned about facing an investigation as a result of a clinical decision made in a high pressured environment.

And 36% were specifically concerned about following a decision to “withdraw or withhold life prolonging treatment due to capacity and resource constraints during the pandemic”.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Dedicated frontline NHS staff should be able to focus on treating patients and saving lives during the pandemic without fear of legal action.

“We have reassured NHS staff that existing indemnity arrangements will rightly continue to cover the vast majority of liabilities which may arise, and we have made specific arrangements so any member of staff not covered by existing indemnity schemes will be protected under the Coronavirus Act.

“Health and care professional regulators have issued a joint statement making clear any concerns raised will be considered in the context of the challenging circumstances staff are operating in.”

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Felicity-May Harvey: Family pay tribute to baby girl after murder arrest | UK News

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Felicity-May Harvey: Family pay tribute to baby girl after murder arrest | UK News

The family of a two-week-old girl who died in hospital say she “melted the hearts of everyone who met her” after a man was arrested on suspicion of her murder.

Felicity-May Harvey, from Heywood, Greater Manchester, died in hospital on 11 January.

Three days earlier, medics at the hospital called police to report their concern for her.

A 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder and has since been released on bail pending further inquiries, Greater Manchester Police said.

In a tribute released on Saturday, the little girl’s family said: “Our hearts are broken after losing our precious baby girl, Felicity-May.

“She was a gorgeous baby and always so alert, looking around with her big blue eyes.

“She was absolutely beautiful and incredibly brave and she melted the hearts of everyone who met her.

“What made her extra special was her cleft lip and palate and despite the challenges of this she was the most happy and content little girl.

“She was and always will be loved by her mum, sisters and family and there is a huge void in all our hearts and lives now that she has been taken from us.

“She was our special star, and it is not fair that she shone brightly for only a short time. When we look up at the sky, we will look through the clouds and know that the brightest star shining is our Felicity-May.

“Rest in peace baby girl. Sleep tight. Until we meet again, our precious angel.”

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Laurence Fox criticised after showing off mask exemption badge ‘he bought online’ | Ents & Arts News

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Laurence Fox and Billie Piper

Actor Laurence Fox has been criticised after posting a photo of himself wearing a mask exemption badge which he says he bought online.

The 42-year-old has been a vocal critic of the government’s coronavirus face covering rulings and social distancing regulations.

Along with a selfie showing him wearing his new purchase, Fox wrote: “After a long period of consultation with myself, an extended review period and proper due diligence conducted with myself, I’ve received the badge that I ordered from Amazon. Thank you for being there for me.”

The blue and yellow laminated badge, worn on a green lanyard, reads: “I am exempt from wearing a face covering”.

Smaller print below also reads: “Be kind. Keep your distance. Thank you for understanding”.

Fox signed off his post with the hashtag “anxiety”.

A pack of two similar badges with two lanyards costs around £7.99 on Amazon.

Some social media users questioned his decision as Fox did not say whether he had bought the badge due to a medical condition.

One person wrote: “Not sure at all why you (are) taking this stance Laurence but I think it’s disappointing.

“Let’s all get with the programme and not undermine the best efforts of the (government) and our people for doing the right thing. Try sending the right message out.”

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Fox was previously married to actress Billie Piper

However others backed up Fox’s stance, pointing out that face coverings do not have to be worn by everyone.

Face masks must be worn in the majority of indoor settings and on public transport, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse.

Those who are exempt from wearing a face covering include children under 11, those with a physical or mental impairment which stops them from using a mask and those who need to communicate with someone who relies on lip reading.

People not wearing a mask do not need to show any form of evidence by law, but the government says they may “feel more comfortable” showing proof exemption. It also says a home-made sign is an acceptable exemption card.

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Earlier this month, Fox criticised the government for shutting schools, and in November he ignored lockdown rules by throwing a dinner party.

The controversial actor has recently entered the world of politics himself, launching the Reclaim political party late last year after raising large sums from ex-Tory donors.

He says the party will “fight the culture wars” and “reclaim” British values.

Fox is the ex-husband of actress Billie Piper, and the son of actor James Fox and part of the Fox acting dynasty along with his brother, Jack, and cousins, Emilia and Freddie.

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