23:10 GMT28 February 2021
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    LONDON (Sputnik) – UK Environment Minister George Eustice admitted on Friday that some of the measures taken by the government to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic are “draconian”, but said they are necessary even if they violate people’s civil liberties and the government will not apologise for it.

    "Generally, with this whole pandemic we´ve had to take some quite extraordinary steps, very draconian steps that are a big infringement of people´s liberties, asking them to stay at home, telling them they can´t meet, they can´t go out," Eustice told Sky News broadcaster.

    The environment secretary added that "none of us want these restrictions to stay in place a moment longer", but stressed that the UK is in a very serious position at the moment, with record-breaking infection and mortality figures almost every day.

    "There is pressure on our NHS and we need everybody to play their part to abide by the restrictions that we´ve got in place to limit the spread of this virus and yes, that does mean that we have to intervene some times in quite a draconian way and issue penalties, and we make no apologies for doing that because you can see the impacts of this virus spreading," Eustice said.

    Asked about speculations that the government is planning to ban all arrivals from abroad to prevent new virus variants from entering the UK, the minister said that for now borders will remain open but that situation was under review.

    He did not confirm either a The Guardian newspaper’s report saying that the government is considering paying £500 ($752) to people who test positive for the COVID-19 because official polling had found that only 17 percent of those with symptoms are coming forward to get a test, out of fears that a positive result could stop people from working.

    “I'm not going to comment on this particular paper but we've always kept it under review - we do need people if they've been asked to self-isolate because they've been asked to through test and trace, we need them to self-isolate,” Eustice said.

    On Thursday, Home Office minister Priti Patel Patel announced that from next week people caught attending house parties of 15 people or more will be fined 800 pounds ($1,096) and that the amount will be doubled for each repeat offense.

    The UK has reported 3,543,646 COVID-19 positive cases and 94,580 deaths since the pandemic began.

    COVID-19, lockdown, United Kingdom
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