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COVID-19 lockdown: Scotland Yard warns against breach of law

Press Trust of India  |  London 

Scotland Yard on Wednesday said that its officers stand ready to take enforcement action if "absolutely necessary" and called on the UK population to comply with the law and stay indoors as part of the lockdown measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick said that since Prime Minister Boris Johnson's "stay at home" announcement on Monday evening, officers have been on the streets of London to advise people and businesses of the new rules.

"We will only use enforcement if we absolutely have to but we won't hesitate if there are people who are deliberately breaching the law. But I think the vast majority of people will want to comply with the law to keep their society safe.

"We've shown time and again our ability to adapt, to rise to a challenge, to flex and surge our resources and our staff, and even in the darkest of time to be able to keep people safe and give a good quality police service. I am determined we will do that," she said.

Her message came as it emerged that police had to step in to break up a barbeque gathering of 20 people in Coventry, central England.

"Officers felt they needed to end the gathering by tipping over the BBQ and insisting the group dispersed to their homes," West Midlands Police said.

"It's vital everyone follows the new lockdown instructions. They are essential and will save lives," the force said.

Meanwhile, around 250,000 people have signed up in a single day to volunteer with the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) after a recruitment drive to help the vulnerable amid the coronavirus crisis.

The helpers are needed for delivering food and medicines, driving patients to appointments and phoning the isolated.

The scheme is one of many being launched to help relieve pressure on the country's health service. About 11,000 former medics have also agreed to return to the health service and more than 24,000 final year student nurses and medics will join them.

The effort was lauded by MPs in the House of Commons on Wednesday, which will be the last day of sitting for Parliament as it rises earlier than planned for its Easter break to comply with the social distancing rules.

Jeremy Corbyn said: "his voice will not be stilled" as he took part in his final Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) as the Leader of the Opposition Labour Party, which is undergoing a postal ballot for a new leader. He warned Johnson not to deliver his political "obituary", as he would not stop campaigning for social justice.

"This crisis shows us how deeply we depend on each other. We will only come through this as a society with a huge collective effort," he said.

Boris Johnson paid tribute to his opponent's "sincerity and determination to build a better society".

The Commons, which passed the emergency Coronavirus Bill as its last major act, will not return until April 21 at the earliest, by which time Labour will have a new leader.

The number of coronavirus deaths in the UK stands at 440, with more than 8,000 confirmed cases.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, March 25 2020. 21:18 IST