09:45 GMT17 January 2021
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    Home Secretary Priti Patel said current coronavirus pandemic rules were "tough enough" and there was no cause for confusion over the few circumstances under which citizens were allowed to leave their homes.

    UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has backed a crackdown on those flouting COVID-19 rules — but would not be drawn to rumoured plans for harsher lockdown restrictions.

    "We remain locked in a fight against coronavirus", Patel said at a Downing Street press conference on Tuesday, repeating the government's public health mantra of "stay home, protect the NHS and save lives".

    She said most people were "doing the right thing" by obeying the rules. "But a minority are putting the health of the nation at risk by not following the rules".

    Police were "now moving more quickly to issue fines where people are clearly breaching coronavirus regulations", Patel said. "If you do not play your part, our selfless police officers, who are out there risking their own lives... will enforce the regulations. And I will back them to do so".

    Patel said nearly 45,000 fixed penalty notices — on-the-spot fines — had been issued so far to those flouting the rules.

    But the home secretary rejected suggestions from journalists that stricter rules could or should be imposed on the population. 

    "The rules are tough enough", she said. "The message is clear. The more we follow the rules is the sooner we can drive this awful, atrocious virus down".

    Asked why the restrictions were laxer than during the first lockdown last spring, Patel retorted "The rules are actually very simple and clear — we are meant to stay at home and only leave home for a very, very limited number of reasons".

    Patel revealed that a total of 2,431,648 people had been vaccinated against COVID-19 nationwide so far. More than 45,500 tested positive for the deadly virus on Tuesday, while more than 35,000 sufferers were in hospital as of 10 January. And more than 83,000 have died so far in the UK.

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    lockdown, Priti Patel, COVID-19, coronavirus
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