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Where reasoned conversation has not been successful Essex Police will take enforcement action against people flouting COVID-19 rules, the force has outlined.
The position comes amidst warnings from the Metropolitan Police which has instructed officers to enforce lockdown laws more “quickly” and accept fewer “reasonable excuses” in an effort to save lives.
The Met has announced that people committing “obvious, wilful and serious breaches” will no longer be given the benefit of the doubt.
It comes as the Government faces calls to allow police to enter people’s homes to break up gatherings following an alarming rise in coronavirus cases.
The Met said that officers will accept fewer “reasonable excuses” for people being away from their homes, and those not wearing masks when they should be are more likely to be slapped with a fine.
Essex Police has said it will continue to use the four Es approach – engage, explain, encourage and enforce.
A spokesperson said: “With regards to how Essex Police plans to enforce the regulations and why it is important to ensure residents are following the rules, our position remains the same as it has always been.
“Essex Police will continue to use the same common-sense approach to the regulations that we’ve had throughout the pandemic – we’ll engage with people, explain the regulations, and encourage them to do the right thing.
“Where reasoned conversation has not been successful we will take enforcement action.
“We will also continue to respond to clear and blatant breaches of the regulations in order to protect and serve the county and take enforcement action when that occurs.”
Much like the lockdown in March, residents are instructed to stay at home except for a handful of permitted reasons. Exercise outdoors will be allowed only once a day and outdoor sports venues must close.
On Wednesday, January 6 director of health for Essex Mike Gogarty said around 1 in 18 people in parts of South Essex are now thought to have the virus.
He added that this infection rate could soon reach the whole of Essex.
It comes around latest figures that show there were more than 21,300 new cases registered in Essex in the past seven days – with Thurrock seeing England’s second highest rate of 1,514 per 100,000.
Brentwood saw 1,371 cases per 100,000.
Leader of Brentwood Borough, Councillor Chris Hossack has urged people to follow the rules.
He said: “Our health services are supporting us in vital ways, primarily we should remember they are putting themselves at risk to provide often lifesaving treatment to others.
“We must support them in turn by curtailing what we may want to do, and doing what we must do – that is to stick to the new lockdown rules.
“We must each take responsibility for our actions and know that what we do now directly affects those around us and the speed at which we get out of this pandemic.
“If we are to cut the rate of infection and stay on track with the vaccinations we will see an end to this.”