Coronavirus: Minister Doubles Down on Snitching, Police Will ‘Come Down Hard’

Demonstrators at an anti-vax rally protest against vaccination and government restrictions designed to control or mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, including the wearing of masks and lockdowns, clash with police officers at Trafalgar square, central London on September 19, 2020. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by …
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has hardened the government’s tone over those breaking the coronavirus laws, saying police will “come down hard on people who do the wrong thing”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced over the weekend that those who receive a positive test for coronavirus, or have been in close contact with someone known to have the Chinese virus, must self-isolate. Failure to do so will result in the first fine of £1,000 increasing up to a capped £10,000 for “repeat offences”.

Asked whether people should shop each other to the police if they know they have broken self-isolation rules, Mr Hancock said emphatically, “yes”, telling Times Radio on Sunday that police would “come down hard on people who do the wrong thing”.

Earlier, he had told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that he would call the police on his own neighbours if he thought they were breaking self-isolation rules. Hancock’s neighbours were not impressed, however, with several who live near the minister telling The Mirror they would not snitch on people in their community.

One told the tabloid: “I would never phone the police on my neighbours. The government didn’t handle this well early on and had no clear plan. They’re panicking now.”

Hancock is not the first minister to tell Britons they should inform on their neighbours if they think they are breaking coronavirus rules. When the ‘rule of six’ was introduced last week — with limits people to socialising in groups of no more than six, except in certain circumstances such as if you are grouse shooting or at a Black Lives Matter protest — Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said people should snitch on their neighbours if they break the rules. Home Secretary Priti Patel agreed and even said that two families of a combined more than six people who run into each other in the street and stop for a chat are breaking the law.

After criticisms that the Conservative government was behaving like the Stasi in Communist former East Germany, Prime Minister Johnson tried to repair the damage by saying that he did not believe in “sneak culture” — but added that you should only call the authorities if your neighbours are having “Animal House” parties.

One would expect that the prime minister would have the final authority in setting the tone for coronavirus law enforcement; however, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage suggests that it is Matt Hancock in charge.

Speaking to supporters on Sunday, Mr Farage said that “it’s Prefect Hancock and a small group in Number 10 that have decided” on the new isolation-breach fines, “without any parliamentary debate or scrutiny whatsoever.

“We are supposed to be living in a democracy. Actually, it’s increasingly like an elective dictatorship.”

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