Matt Hancock Says "Everybody" Should Report Their Neighbours If They Flout Coronavirus Rules
Matt Hancock has urged people to shop their neighbours if they fail to follow coronavirus rules (Credit: PA)
Matt Hancock has urged people to report their neighbours for flouting coronavirus rules as he announced heavy new penalties for those who fail to self-isolate when asked.
The health secretary said he would not hesitate to alert the authorities if he became aware of anyone breaking the new "rule of six" restrictions and that "everybody should" do likewise.
It comes after the government revealed new legal powers to hand out £10,000 fines to people who do not quarantine if they test positive for the virus, rates of which are rising rapidly across the country.
The measures also include a £500 support payment for those on lower incomes who have to self-isolate and cannot work from home, and a penalty for employers who punish employers for doing so.
Mr Hancock said the UK was at a "tipping point" and could face tougher national restricions if people fail to heed new guidelines.
"I don't want to see more measures but unfortunately if people don't follow the rules that's how the virus spreads," he told Sky's Sophy Ridge.
"Everyone faces a choice and it comes down to individual moments - should I go to that party where there might not be social distancing?
"The answer is no, you should not."
Mr Hancock said local lockdowns had brought cases "right under control" in parts of the country, as London Mayor Sadiq Khan warned the capital could be placed under additional curbs as soon as Monday.
And the health secretary said he would "not rule out" Londoners being asked to work from home, as he prepared to meet City Hall officials on Sunday.
He told Times Radio: "I've been talking to the Mayor of London over the weekend about what's needed in London and that's an example of local action in the same way that I was talking about the councils in the north east. And then we took action in Lancashire...and we had to bring in more measures in Wolverhampton.
"The conversation is...an ongoing one with the mayor."
PoliticsHome is maintaining a live map of local lockdown restrictions across the UK, which is viewable here.
A source close to the mayor said on Saturday: "It’s clear that cases in London are only moving in one direction, we are now just days behind hotspots in the North West and North East.
“We can’t afford more delay. Introducing new measures now will help slow the spread of the virus and potentially prevent the need for a fuller lockdown like we saw in March, which could seriously damage the economy once again.”
Mr Hancock promised the UK has "got the cavalry coming over the next few months; the vaccine, the mass testing and the improvement in treatments".
"But we've got to all follow the rules between now and then to keep people safe," he told the BBC.
Asked what he expected the death rate could be if people failed to do so, the health secretary said: "It's unknowable, because it depends on the behaviour of every single person in this country."
Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer warned new legal powers were not a "silver bullet" and urged ministers to fix the struggling test and trace programme.
He said Boris Johnson should apologise to the nation for the system's failings and restart daily press briefings "so everybody knows what's going on".
"I don't think a national lockdown is inevitable. I think it's more likely because testing is all over the place," he told Sky News.
"I think one of the conerns I have and a lot of people have is because the government has lost control of testing, it doesn't know where the virus is."
He added: "We are in this position just when we need testing to be at its best."
The Labour leader also called for schoolchildren to be prioritised for testing to avoid mass school closures, with tests and results offered within a 48-hour period.