On the face of it, the prime minister’s stay at home order to the nation is a robust new approach, encompassing the most extraordinary restrictions.
But enforcing what effectively amounts to a nationwide self-isolation programme, will be far from easy.
The government hopes the very declaration of an order to remain at home will in itself have a profound effect – and there is no doubt the vast majority of people will obey the new restrictions.
For those who don’t, it is likely to be down to the police to ensure compliance, but officers are still in discussions with government to work out the way forward.
Martin Hewitt, the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: “These new measures are sensible, based on scientific evidence and give people clarity on the exact steps they must take to stop the rapid transmission of this disease.
“The majority of people are already making real sacrifices to save lives and we urge everyone to follow the advice that is designed to keep us all safe.
“We are working with the government and other agencies to consider how these new rules can be most effectively enforced.”
There are definite areas of uncertainty when it comes to determining who might be in breach of the new rules.
Large gatherings of people at public events, in the park, or on the beach, are easy enough to spot and would be relatively straight forward to ordering such groups disperse.
But far more difficult to establish is whether people are complying with orders to remain at home, permitted to leave the house only very occasionally.
It’s difficult to see how officers could ever enforce that rule, or would even try.
And the initial approach from the UK’s biggest police force, the Met, is certainly adopting a softly, softly approach.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “We fully anticipate the public and business in London will want to adhere to the new restrictions to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“We have good relationships with our communities and will maintain our policing stance encouraging adherence to the new measures.
“If we suspect anyone to be in breach of the restrictions we will speak to them, explain what the restrictions require them to do and ask them to comply in order to help prevent the spread of the virus and ultimately save lives.”
The new measures will be enhanced if the current mitigation proposals don’t have the desired effect in trying to arrest the spread of COVID-19.
There has been no mention yet of the growing concern around renewed crowding on parts of the transport network, which has seen queues for far fewer trains on the likes of the London Underground.
It’s likely that a system will soon be implemented restricting travel on public transport to those in essential jobs.
And overcrowding at the nation’s supermarkets remains a big concern.
The police understandably say they do not want to get involved in policing supermarket queues. They’ll have more than enough to keep them occupied in the months ahead.
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