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Stricter lockdown could see Estate agents closed, markets shut


Lockdown measures could be tightened within days if people keep flouting the rules, the Mail can reveal today.

Downing Street insisted today the focus was on better compliance with existing Covid regulations.

But sources warned ministers were ready to tighten the lockdown further unless the situation improved by the weekend.

'The compliance data is mixed,' an insider said. 'We should have better data by the weekend and at that point we will have to decide whether we need to go further.'

Extra measures being considered include removing the exemption that allows two people to meet outdoors to exercise.

Another source said some ministers were pushing for more businesses to be closed, including estate agents, outdoor markets and click-and-collect retail.

Scientists are also arguing for the two-metre social distancing rule to be increased to three metres.

A Downing Street source said Boris Johnson would need clear data showing problems before he ordered further damaging closures.

The Prime Minister told the Cabinet yesterday it was 'more important than ever that the public stay at home'.



Ministers hope infections are 'levelling off' in some areas. Latest data revealed that 45,533 people tested positive for the virus on Monday, taking the seven-day average down by 0.5 per cent – the first fall in weeks.


However, some government scientists fear the true case rate is more than 250,000 a day.


They have warned the Prime Minister that, even with the rollout of the vaccine, the death rate may not start to fall until the middle of next month.


At a press conference yesterday, Priti Patel was asked why the lockdown rules were laxer than those introduced last March.


The Home Secretary initially said the regulations were 'tough enough' and simply needed to be followed more closely.

But she then confirmed ministers were looking again at whether the restrictions need to be tightened.


'These issues are live within government,' she said. 'Rules are always under review. We are constantly, right now, looking at where we are at.'


Miss Patel also revealed that police had handed out 45,000 Covid fines – and warned that a minority were 'putting the health of the nation at risk'.


The PM's spokesman said: 'If we need to take further action we will. But the important thing now is we are asking people to stay at home.'


Ministers are growing alarmed by the emergence of a Covid hotspot on Merseyside, which has overtaken London as the area where the virus is increasing fastest.


A surge in cases there could be embarrassing for the Government, which made great play of the decision to move the region into Tier Two at the end of the second lockdown while most of the rest of the North West stayed in Tier Three.


The highest overall case rate in England remains Barking and Dagenham in London.





Priti Patel used yesterday's TV conference, during which she was flanked by the chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council, Martin Hewitt, to plead with people to follow the rules




Credit: Read more from dailymail.co.uk



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