Any deviation from the Covid-19 rules could be fatal, medics and the police have warned as they urged Britons to stay at home over this “crucial” weekend.
The UK’s R rate has been estimated to be between 1.2 and 1.3 by government scientists, but it is rising to 1.4 in several parts of the country, compared with 0.9 at 2020’s peak.
Hospitals have been told to free up as many beds as possible in preparation for an influx of patients as health chiefs warned the NHS is about to face the “toughest part” of the pandemic.
Workers on the frontline are pleading with the public to act as if they have the virus to stop the spread and ease the pressure on the NHS.
Martin Hewitt, the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, warned that Britain is at “the most dangerous stage” of the pandemic and said officers will not hesitate to fine people breaking the regulations.
“While the vast majority of us follow the rules and stay at home, police officers will be visible in communities tackling those who are not playing their part,” he said.
“We will not hesitate to issue fines to those deliberately breaching the regulations with no regard for the safety of others.”
The new variant of Covid-19 is spreading up to 70 per cent faster than the variant in 2020 and one in 30 people are infected with the virus in some parts of the country.
TV and NHS medic Dr Ranj Singh urged the nation to remain vigilant.
“I know it is tough and we are bored with the guidelines, but on behalf of my colleagues in the NHS, please stay at home this weekend,” he said.
“I can see it in my hospital, staff are struggling to cope with the amount of care needed to be given to more and more patients suffering from this terribly debilitating virus.”