Hundreds of ‘blatant’ Covid-19 breaches across Lancashire this weekend as police swamped with reports

Police in Lancashire have revealed their concerns over the staggering amount of coronavirus breaches across the county this weekend.

Deputy Chief Constable Terry Woods, of Lancashire Constabulary, said officers have received ‘hundreds’ of reports from the public of people breaking the rules.

Officers had a ‘busy weekend’ attending the breaches, with reports of pubs and a gym defying the measures, as well as someone filming staff at a testing centre.

Not enough people are staying at home, DCC Terry Woods warned, with some stretching excuses while the NHS and public services are “creaking”.

Taking to Twitter to voice his concerns, he said: “Sadly busy weekend concerning blatant COVID breaches. Hundreds of incidents reported by the public. Reports of pubs, a gym and even someone filming staff at testing centre.

“Summary – not enough people staying home, some stretching excuses meanwhile NHS & public services are creaking folks.”

It comes as Lancashire remains under national lockdown along with the rest of England.

Current rules mean that people must not leave, or be outside of their homes except where necessary.

People can only leave their homes for a small number of reasons, including to work if they cannot do so from home, to exercise, to shop for necessities, to meet their support bubble where necessary, for medical assistance or to attend education or childcare.

The breaches in Lancashire come as the Health Secretary warned that “every flexibility” of the rules could prove fatal, amid dire warnings in all four nations over high levels of infection and struggling hospital systems.

Matt Hancock said the majority of people are “following the rules” to stay at home, but he refused to criticise the police over complaints that some forces have been over-zealous in handing out fines.

Police tactics have come in for scrutiny after Derbyshire Police handed out £200 fines to two women who drove separately to go for a walk at a remote beauty spot situated around five miles from their homes, with the force confirming it will be reviewing all fixed penalty notices.

Mr Hancock, asked about Derbyshire Police’s approach, told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “I’m absolutely going to back the police because the challenge here is that every flex can be fatal.

“You might look at the rules and think ‘Well, it doesn’t matter too much if I just do this or do that’.

“But these rules are not there as boundaries to be pushed, they are the limit to what people should be doing.

“The police are right to take very seriously the rules we have brought in. We haven’t brought them in because we wanted to, we’ve brought them in because we had to.

“Every flexibility can be fatal.”

The comments came after Home Secretary Priti Patel also offered her support to those on the front line of policing the lockdown, stressing that there is “a need for strong enforcement where people are clearly breaking these rules” and vowed that officers will “not hesitate to take action”.

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