Boris Johnson is drawing up tough new plans to crack down on Covid patients who flout quarantine rules after a Government study claimed that 20 per cent of people required to self-isolate ignore official advice.
The Prime Minister is thought to be considering a 'carrot and stick' approach where people who follow Government instructions could be given bigger payments while they isolate.
Police have the power to issue fines of up to £1,000 for breaching quarantine, though they have barely been used, with just 34 people having been penalised since the measures were introduced.
Ministers are even drawing up plans for a hotline for snoopers to report neighbours who are breaking quarantine rules to the police - a measure encouraged by police at the start of lockdown.
The proposal was discussed by Cabinet ministers on Tuesday, according to The Times. A Government source told the newspaper that the hotline plans were 'exploratory' but not yet official policy.
An increase in spot checks by public health officials is also being prepared by ministers whose 'rule of six' outlawing social gatherings of seven or more people comes into force in England on Monday.
The Prime Minister previously told a Downing Street press conference last week that the Government was planning to recruit 'Covid marshals' to enforce coronavirus-specific guidance.
Under the strict new measures, groups of more than six can be broken up by police who will be able to hand out £100 fines to those who flout the rules. This will double on each repeat offence up to £3,200.
Boris Johnson is drawing up tough new plans to crack down on Covid patients who flout quarantine rules after a Government study claimed that 20 per cent of people required to self-isolate ignore official advice
Police have the power to issue fines of up to £1,000 for breaching quarantine, though they have barely been used (pictured: protestors at Wollaton Hall Park Nottingham, on May 16, 2020. Two mass gatherings were due to take place in Nottingham)
Public health officials point to an alleged spike in Covid cases, with a Government-led study published yesterday suggesting that the reproduction 'R' rate could be as high as 1.7 in England
Ministers are planning on bringing in tougher measures to make sure that arrivals to the UK from overseas provide their contact details at airports as the Government panics about an alleged spike in Covid cases.
The Government's new quarantine restrictions on travellers from Portugal, Hungary, French Polynesia and Reunion came into force today at 4am after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps removed the countries from its quarantine exemption list - meaning new arrivals coming into England must self-isolate for 14 days.
It comes as ministers panic Britain into tough new restrictions which have come under fire from angry MPs including Conservative as 'arbitrary' and the 'most draconian restriction on our liberty'.
MPs have slammed Government attempts to impose the anti-Covid restrictions on Monday without a debate in Parliament, with Speaker Lindsay Hoyle threatening to force an urgent question if Matt Hancock refused to appear before the House of Commons. The Speaker added that he is 'disappointed' about the lack of scrutiny.
Responding to criticism of the Government's anti-Covid crackdown, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said that people should only have freedom if they 'exercise' it 'responsibly'.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster told the Today programme today: 'We are reacting to a new virus, and what we want to do is balance various different considerations. I don't want to see fines being levied, but even more I do not want to see people behaving in a way that puts the most vulnerable at risk.
'There are restrictions, and I love freedom - but the one thing that's more important is that you exercise freedom responsibly. When you are exercising freedom, you should do so in a way that does not do harm to others.'
Government scientists are urging the public to adhere to the new 'rule of six', with Sir Mark Walport claiming today that the UK is 'on the edge of losing control' of coronavirus.
Speaking to the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme, Sir Mark said that the Government-led study on the 'R' rate showed that people contracting coronavirus 'weren't worried about catching it'.
He recommended a 'mixture of carrots and sticks', adding: 'It's one thing to have a rule, it's a question of adhering to it. It's a question of making sure in public spaces... that the landlords actually do make people behave.
'I think that we are on the edge of losing control (of the virus). You only have to look across the Channel to see what's happening in France, and what's happening in Spain.
'Only way to stop the spread of this infection is to reduce the number of people we come into contact with. It means we're going to have to hold back our contacts in other areas. Where people can work from home, there is an extremely strong argument that they should do so.
'It's very difficult to control a disease if you can't test for it and identify it.'
Responding to Sir Mark's warnings, Mr Gove added: 'I think Sir Mark's words... is a warning to us all. There's a range of scientific opinion but one thing on which practically every scientist is agreed is that we have seen an uptick in infection and therefore it is appropriate we take public health measures.'
Public health officials point to an alleged spike in Covid cases, with a Government-led study published yesterday suggesting that the reproduction 'R' rate could be as high as 1.7 in England.
As hundreds of Britons enjoyed a final weekend of freedom, police bosses urged people to look after each other and avoid a 'party weekend' before the restrictions are implemented.
People gather at More London Place near London Bridge in London for one more weekend of freedom before the government implements its new rule of six from Monday
People gather outside the The Shipwrights Arms near London Bridge on Friday for a final weekend of freedom out before the new rules hit
Under Boris Johnson 's strict new measures, groups of more than six can be broken up by police who will be able to hand out £100 fines to those who flout the rules. This will double on each repeat offence up to £3,200. Pictured: London Bridge
John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: 'There is a real risk some members of the public will take advantage of the current situation and treat this weekend as a party weekend ahead of the tighter restrictions being introduced on Monday.
'Alcohol and warm weather are not a good combination at the best of times. Using the current situation as an opportunity and excuse to party would be incredibly irresponsible and put pressure not only on policing, but potentially on the ambulance service and NHS.
'We are in the grip of a deadly pandemic and we have seen cases increasing over recent weeks.
'Policing is under pressure like never before, but my colleagues will give enforcement notices if they feel it's appropriate, and we make no apology for doing so.'
Elsewhere, would-be revellers were encouraged to stay home as Birmingham became the latest city to be hit with localised lockdown rules after the number of coronavirus patients being admitted to hospitals doubled in a week.
From Tuesday, more than 1.5million people in Birmingham and neighbouring Solihull and Sandwell will be banned from mixing with anyone outside of their own household in private homes, pubs, restaurants or in gardens.
Yesterday, police officers told the Telegraph they fear Britain will resemble the 'last days of Rome' after this weekend amid a storm of decadent planned pre-lockdown parties.
One officer, based in the North East, said: 'We are worried this weekend is going to be like the last days of Rome.
Britons have promised to run riot and enjoy one last knees-up with friends before Boris Johnson 's stringent new coronavirus restrictions come into force on Monday
'If people think they are not going to be allowed to go out and enjoy themselves for the next few months, they are going to go crazy and we will be left picking up the pieces.'
Britons have promised to run riot and enjoy one last knees-up with friends before Mr Johnson's stringent new coronavirus restrictions come into force.
Many are having to cancel parties after warnings of a rapid increase in infections among people in their teens, 20s and 30s - but fears have risen that some will take the weekend as an opportunity to run wild despite the ongoing pandemic.
A senior officer said they were not sure if police had the resources to meet the challenge of thousands of people ignoring restrictions this weekend.
Chairman of the Police Federation in West Yorkshire, Brian Booth, added officers were 'flat out again doing the everyday things such as dealing with stabbings, shootings, drug dealers, missing people etc'.
'If we are going to be asked to focus on enforcement, something else will have to give,' he said.
The Government's new 'rule of six' will be introduced on Monday amid fears coronavirus infections in England could be doubling every week with a reproduction 'R' rate as high as 1.7.
Mr Hancock yesterday insisted the increased infection rate justifies the Government's latest restriction, warning people 'the pandemic is not over'.
As hundreds of Britons enjoyed a final weekend of freedom on Friday, police bosses urged people to look after each other and avoid a 'party weekend' before the restrictions are implemented. Pictured: Revellers in Nottingham
Yesterday, officers told the Telegraph they fear Britain will resemble the 'last days of Rome' after this weekend amid a storm of decadent planned pre-lockdown parties
People gather at the Southbank Skatepark in Waterloo, London ahead of the new rules, which ban groups of more than six
The latest measure introduced to tackle the spread of coronavirus comes as a Government-led study yesterday suggested the reproduction 'R' rate could be as high as 1.7 in the UK. Pictured: Southbank on Friday
Experts who have been swabbing tens of thousands of people in England during the crisis found an estimated 13 people per 10,000 were infected between August 22 and September 7, compared to four people per 10,000 between July 24 and August 11.
The scientists behind an Imperial College London REACT-1 study said the findings showed the epidemic is doubling in size every 'seven to eight days'. By comparison, Covid-19 infections were increasing by twofold every three days at the start of the crisis.
The Department of Health confirmed on Friday another 3,539 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and six more people have died. The new diagnoses are the highest since May 17.
And data from the Office for National Statistics suggests 3,200 people are getting sick every day in England and Wales - a surge of 45 per cent from last week's prediction of 2,200.
The number of people testing positive may be higher