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We need a tougher deterrent than fines to stop Covid rule-breakers

·5-min read
An anti-lockdown protester is detained in Newcastle city centre. Priti Patel has praised the ‘selflessness’ of officers policing through the pandemic (Getty Images)
An anti-lockdown protester is detained in Newcastle city centre. Priti Patel has praised the ‘selflessness’ of officers policing through the pandemic (Getty Images)

Priti Patel said: “Such irresponsible behaviour poses a significant threat to public health, not only to those in attendance, but also our wonderful police officers who attend these events to shut them down.”

Quite right too, you might think. Given those people that the police are currently fining show such disregard for their own safety, should we not assume that a significant number of them are spreading the virus?

However, since the home secretary sees those who break the Covid rules as being at least potentially responsible for the currently raging spread of this deadly virus, why stop with fines?

If Ms Patel accepts this rationale, then should she not also accept the need to bring in enforced quarantine?

There are plenty of hotels which could be contracted to provide secure accommodation for Covid offenders, where a mandatory 10 days quarantine would be ensured, with the offender only being released following a negative test result at the completion of their incarceration.

Instead of fining these individuals, the full cost of their enforced hotel stay, plus the cost of however many Covid tests they need to gain their freedom, together with potential loss of earnings, might prove a better financial punishment whilst helping to keep law-abiding citizens safe.

It seems ironic that the government is now apparently contemplating this policy for people coming into the UK from abroad, while we simply fine some (not even all) individuals who are at least as great a risk to the general population.

It is unfortunate we don’t know just how many hospitalisations and deaths have resulted from the selfish behaviour of the few, but there seems little doubt that these individuals are the second greatest cause of Britain’s failure to get Covid under control, with poor government policy decisions being the main cause.

One could very well think the government is indifferent to the growing death toll, therefore putting public safety ahead of punishing the guilty would make a very welcome change.

David Curran

Feltham, Middlesex

First Glasto, next Festival of Brexit

Surely now that the cancellation of Glastonbury has been announced, it must follow that the so-called Festival of Brexit must likewise be consigned to the scrap heap.

Apart from being a Covid-19 vector it is also, reportedly, going to cost taxpayers £120m to stage.

Even if you ignore Cheops’ law, which I am sure will apply, how on earth can we justify such expenditure when people and certain industries are on their knees?

Or is it the case that the organisers are big supporters of the Conservative party?

Robert Boston

Kingshill, Kent

Google a new search engine

I really can't see why the Australian government should be all that bothered about Google removing their search engine. People can discover other search engines which are also pretty good, but which don't currently compete with governments for hegemony.

Cole Davis

Norwich

Strength in face of opposition

I could not agree more with Andrew Grice that the prime minister must not indeed blink in the face of unreasonable and short-sighted demands to relax lockdown restrictions.

I feel that Steve Baker, now vice chair of the Covid Recovery Group and previously “Brexit hardman” and chair of the ERG, is detrimental to our lives and wellbeing. The extreme influence of the ERG led us to the hard Brexit we are enduring, with many of us seeing this as a massive cultural and economic error. Now he and his fellow compadres want to yet again influence Boris Johnson in relation to producing a quick exit out of the current restrictions. Never mind the very worrying news about the new variant and increasing mortality rates.

Johnson needs now to show them the door in no uncertain terms or open a door for them, perhaps one leading to an ICU in any of our extremely pressurised hospitals, where doctors and nurses are struggling to save people’s lives. This then might take the wind out of their sails.

They think they have autonomy over the prime minister, that they helped him to achieve high office and now they can bring him down if he doesn't accede to their irresponsible demands. It beggars all sane and sensible belief that he has to face off these backbenchers who have become heady with their perceived power. Get real Boris Johnson and see them off now. Show the country real prime ministerial qualities in the face of these reckless MPs who place Britain's economic future above everything else.

Judith A Daniels

Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

UK also divided

There is certainly a stark contrast between Joe Biden and Boris Johnson. From his inauguration speech it’s clear that Biden realises that the USA is a deeply divided country and proposes to try to do something about it; he also realises that the truth matters.

In contrast Boris appears not to fully recognise that the UK is also deeply divided: other than “levelling up the north” he doesn’t appear to care. He treats the three devolved governments and metropolitan leaders with disdain, and he ignores the half of the country that wished to remain part of the EU.

The latest decision not to give diplomatic status to the EU is not only insulting to the EU (our supposed “friends in Europe”) but also to many people in this country as well. And as for the lesson from Trump that lies destroy harmony – which was implicit in Biden’s speech – Johnson has never had a respect for the truth, and doesn’t even seem to realise that continually lying is very destructive.

Is he even capable of trying to tell the truth, or is “me, me, me” just so deeply ingrained that he will never be able to aspire to the Biden vision?

Ian K Watson

Carlisle

Have a heart

It might be easy for Andrew Woodcock to imagine the prime minister obsessively makes buses out of cardboard boxes in his spare time like an overgrown schoolboy. But have a heart, Andrew.

What if he truly has a better imaginative capability. Why wouldn’t he be transporting his young infant son around in a box on the floor of No 10? Why on earth would he not be playing with him when he’s not answering questions from journalists? Maybe he’s just doing what so many parents are trying to do at the moment – amidst the pressures of work and family in close proximity – wanting to be a good father, not a schoolboy.

Geralyn Collins

Woolhampton, Berkshire

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