Boris Johnson has told the House of Commons that the military can be called upon ‘where required’ as the Prime Minister announced a raft of new measures which are intended to try and kerb the rise in the COVID-19 infection rate.
Since 1st July, there has been a gradual increase in the number of infections which have been detected, the details of which have been published on the government’s dedicated coronavirus website.
However, since the beginning of September, the number of infections has increased significantly with 4,368 cases being reported on Monday 21st September. The last time as many cases were detected was mid-April when 4,399 cases were reported.
Talking about the tighter enforcement and more stringent penalties which have been introduced to try and stop the sharp increase in cases, Mr Johnson said:
“These rules will be enforced by tighter penalties. We have already introduced a fine of up to £10,000 for those who fail to self-isolate, and such fines will now be applied to businesses breaking COVID rules.
“The penalty for failing to wear a mask or breaking the rule of six will now double to £200 for a first offence”.
Mr Johnson also added that the police and local authorities would also get extra funding. He said:
“We will provide the police and local authorities with the extra funding they need [for] a greater police presence on our streets”.
The Prime Minister additionally eluded to the fact that the military could also be called upon in order to assist the police ‘where required’.
He said that there would be ‘an option’ to ‘draw on military support where required to free up the police’ but did not detail how this support could manifest itself in relation to the existing operation of the police.
However, the Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, John Apter, said that this support had ‘not been asked for’.
In a series of tweets, Mr Apter said:
‘Just heard the PM’s statement on Covid 19 restrictions across England.
‘More funding for policing this pandemic is welcome, but need to see the detail. Military support implies they will be on the streets enforcing the COVID Regs; this is not needed and has not been asked for.
‘Since the start of this pandemic, the police and military have been working together, focused on logistics.
‘This has and continues to work well, the police have not called for the Military to support them in any other way’.
Since the pandemic reached its peak back in April, the military has already been called upon to assist the NHS with logistics as well as driving emergency ambulances to help free-up frontline staff.
The military also played a pivotal roll in the design and construction of the Nightingale Hospital in east London.
Mr Johnson concluded his statement by saying:
“[we are] better prepared for a second wave, with the ventilators, the PPE, the dexamethasone, the Nightingale Hospitals, and a hundred times as much testing.
“Then we can fight back against this virus, shelter our economy from even greater damage, protect the most vulnerable in care homes and hospitals,
safeguard our NHS and save many more lives”.
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