The UK government will tighten restrictions to curb the spread of the CCP virus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday, amidst speculations that the rules were to be tightened.
Speaking from a vaccination center opened on Monday, the PM urged people to adhere to current rules, as he said it’s “far better” than having more stringent rules.
“We’re going to keep the rules under constant review. Where we have to tighten them, we will,” Johnson told reporters, when asked if the government was going to step up the level of restrictions,
“But we have rules in place already, which, if they are properly followed, we believe can make a huge, huge difference,” he added.
The PM said now is the time for “maximum vigilance” and “maximum observation of the rules.”
The government “may have to do more,” if restrictions are not properly observed, he said. “But [it’s] far better for people to obey the rules that we have than simply to to promulgate new rules.”
Earlier on Monday, the Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment Nadhim Zahawi also urged people to stay at home except for exercise.
“What we need is people to behave as if they’ve got the virus,” Zahawi told Sky News.
“We are concerned that, for example, in supermarkets we need to make sure people actually wear masks and follow the one-way system, and when they are at capacity to operate safely, people wait outside,” Zahawi said.
“Our plea is to everybody, each and every one of us. These rules are not boundaries to be pushed against. These rules are there to try and make sure we bring this virus under control,” he said.
When asked if the government should pressure supermarkets to enforce restrictions, Zahawi thanked supermarkets for “the incredible work they’ve done,” and the help they offered including spaces for vaccination hubs and others, but stopped short of saying enforcement of the rules should be the responsibility of the supermarkets.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents more than 170 major retailers including the big supermarket groups, said enforcing the wearing of masks in stores was down to the police.
“While enforcement of face coverings is the responsibility of the police, retailers continue to do what they can to encourage their use throughout stores,” Andrew Opie, the BRC’s director of food & sustainability said.
“Sadly, this has led to a sharp rise in incidents of violence and abuse against shop workers, which is why it is essential police support the work being done by retailers.”
Opie also said that data from the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has highlighted that retail is a safe environment, and noted that firms have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on safety measures including perspex screens, additional cleaning, and social distancing.
“Supermarkets continue to follow all safety guidance and customers should be reassured that supermarkets are Covid-secure and safe to visit during lockdown and beyond,” he said.
England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty on Monday said the country must “double down” on lockdown measures before the vaccine roll-out begins to have an impact on the spread of the disease.
Reuters and Alexander Zhang contributed to this report.