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Priti Patel has warned Brits they risk huge fines of more than £6,000 if they don't stick to the country's coronavirus lockdown rules by holding illegal parties.
The Home Secretary chaired a Downing Street briefing on Thursday, January 21, after admitting earlier this week it is still "a long way" until restrictions can start to be lifted.
Ms Patel was joined by Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs' Council, and Dr Vin Diwakar, NHS England regional medical director for London.
At the briefing, Ms Patel announced that anyone attending a house party of more than 15 people could face a £800 fine, which will double for repeat offenders up to a maximum of £6,400.
Ms Patel said: "The science is clear. Such irresponsible behaviour poses a significant risk to public health, not only to those in attendance but also to our wonderful police officers who attend these events to shut them down."
Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs' Council, said: "When we [the police] see people that are putting others and themselves in danger, we won't waste time trying to reason with them.
"They are demonstrating no regard for the safety of others or even themselves."
Mr Hewitt also revealed that since late August last year and up to January 17 this year, police across the country have handed out 250 fixed penalty notices carrying £10,000 fines to people who have organised large parties or gatherings.
Brits could be 'back at the pub by March', optimistic ministers hope
On Wednesday a horrifying 1,820 deaths were recorded along with 38,905 positive cases.
It comes as a study shows the start of lockdown has failed to drive down cases like previous national efforts have.
Scientists think the new, more contagious mutation may be to blame, while they warn that infections may not fall unless we do more.
Lead researcher Professor Paul Elliott, from Imperial College London, said: “Our data is showing worrying suggestions of a recent uptick in infections which we will continue to monitor closely.
“Infections must be brought down; if prevalence continues at the high rate we are seeing then hospitals will continue to be put under immense pressure, and more and more lives will be lost.”
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