Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 23 September 2020

CORONAVIRUS

‘Mingling’ is now a criminal offence in UK, warns Priti Patel

Home secretary says she would call police on neighbours or friends breaking rule of six

Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel has said "mingling" is not allowed under England’s new rule of six restrictions and claimed she would call police on neighbours if she believed they were breaking the rules.

"If I saw something that I thought was inappropriate, then quite frankly I would effectively call the police," she told Sky News.

England tightened its lockdown rules from Monday after the daily coronavirus cases in Britain surged from roughly 1,000 to 3,000.

Social gatherings of more than six people in England were outlawed, although there were some exceptions.

On BBC's Today programme, Ms Patel confirmed that people should not stop for a chat in the street or a park if they breach the rule of six.

She confirmed that mingling would be illegal and that two families of four meeting risked falling foul of it.

She said: “Mingling has been banned. Mingling is people coming together. You have to put this in the context of coronavirus, wearing masks, keeping distance.

“The rule of six is about making sure people are being conscientious and not putting other people’s health at risk. People can exercise their own judgment.

“Coronavirus is increasing, and it’s right we do everything we can to protect public health.”

She said reporting offenders was a public health priority rather than being the neighbourhood snitch.

“It may be perceived through that lens, but police have always had the power. I don’t think this is about reporting a neighbour. It’s about non-compliance. The fact of the matter is we all have to take personal responsibility,” Ms Patel said.

“If I saw inappropriate behaviour and people behaving irresponsible way or in an area that was not Covid-compliant then it would be right to report that.”

The rule of six restrictions do not apply to schools, workplaces or weddings, funerals or team sports that are abiding by the government’s Covid-19 guidelines.

They do, however, apply to gatherings in venues such as pubs and restaurants.

Under the new rules, the legal limit at which police can disperse gatherings was revised down from 30 to six people.

Anna Soubry, a former Conservative Party MP and barrister, said the policy risked alienating the public.

Updated: September 15, 2020 05:17 PM

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