High-level ministers have reportedly discussed the prospect of introducing stricter lockdown controls to improve compliance.
The prime minister reportedly spoke to senior ministers on Sunday to assess “whether current lockdown rules are working” to reduce the increase in coronavirus cases, the Daily Telegraph suggested.
The paper said the government was considering abolishing the exemption to allow people to exercise with someone outside their household or support bubble.
A government source reportedly told the newspaper that the allowance was “used as an excuse for people to have coffee with friends in the park,” adding, “We may be tightening things up.”
Ministers are also preparing to tell supermarket bosses to step up surveillance of social distancing restrictions and the wearing of masks in stores, the Times said.
People might also be asked to wear face covers in store queues and even at work, it was alleged.
In addition to the Prime Minister’s discussions, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove is said to have chaired a separate emergency committee over the weekend where participants looked at stricter possible measures and initiatives to promote compliance.
The Cabinet Office, which was asked to confirm what stricter restrictions were being discussed at the meeting, cited words from Secretary of Health Matt Hancock that the public should primarily follow home-stay instructions.
Asked about the prospect of stricter measures, Mr Hancock told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “I don’t want to speculate as the main message is not whether the government will continue to strengthen the rules.
“The most important thing is that people stay home and follow the rules that we have.”
The cabinet minister said the “majority obey the rules” but warned that even a single slip could cost lives.
“Any flexibility can be fatal … this virus is so contagious that it is passed on, and as we’ve seen, it’s fatal,” he told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday.
Some experts have deemed the current lockdown measures insufficient, given the more transferable variant that has spread rapidly in many parts of the country – a position advocated by the Labor Party leader.
Sir Keir Starmer told Marr that the current lockdown rules “may not be strict enough”.
Professor Peter Horby, chair of the Advisory Group on New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats (Nervtag), said the Kent variant made the situation “riskier” and if the infection rate does not slow down we need to “be stricter”.
Police said a widespread video showing a woman arrested for violating Covid-19 rules after sitting on a bench was “staged and administered” by anti-lockdown protesters.
The footage shows a woman in Bournemouth being handcuffed and led away by officers telling them repeatedly, “I was sitting on a bench”.
However, Dorset Police, who confirmed three people were arrested in connection with the alleged incident, believed the clip “was planned, staged and taped by members of an anti-lockdown protest group present in town on Saturday.” ” has been.