Covid police chief says Tier system is too confusing and 'even I don't know the rules'

A POLICE chief has admitted he doesn’t know the details of the country’s Covid restrictions – despite being in charge of enforcing them.

Assistant Chief Constable for Hertfordshire constabulary Owen Weatherill was yesterday asked by MPs whether Brits from two households can meet indoors under Tier Two.

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But the second most senior officer in the country could not answer the simple question, replying: “I haven’t got the regulations in front of me at the moment, so I can’t give you a definitive answer on that.

“I will quite openly state there are so many different variations I am not conversant with every set of regulations and I’m not going to try to be, certainly not in this session.”

Meanwhile when the same question was posed to Lancashire’s chief constable Andy Rhodes he said he would “give it a bash” before giving the wrong answer.

He said police “don’t have to be experts in this stuff within the first 24 hours” of rule changes before both officers admitted the government guidance and laws are confusing for the public.

Both cops were speaking to the Commons Home Affairs committee, headed by Labour MP Yvette Cooper.

She pointed out this was wrong because mixing households indoors was banned.

Mr Rhodes added his officers were as confused as the public after having to grapple with five changes to Covid laws in seven months.

He said: “We have tried to tell them they don’t need to be an expert on all this sort of stuff within the first 24 hours. They can be as confused as other people.”

What are the rules in tier two areas?

Boris Johnson's new three-step lockdown plan is designed to clear up confusion around restrictions

Areas in Tier Two – where there is a high risk of coronavirus – are banned from mixing with other households indoors, including in pubs.

When outside, only two households will be able to mix.

The Prime Minister said this tier reflects interventions in many local areas at the moment and "primarily aims to reduce household transmission by banning mixing indoors". 

Current social distancing measures, the "rule of six" outdoors and the 10pm curfew will continue in this tier.

And most areas which are currently subject to local restrictions will automatically move into it.

Certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am.

But you'll still be able to get a takeaway where that's offered after 10pm – as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-thru.

Schools, universities and places of worship will remain open.

Mr Rhodes added his force would only issue fines for clear breaches of the rules such as throwing illegal raves or holding house parties.

The blunders come after Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to make an embarrassing apology last month after getting mixed up over the details of his local lockdown measures.

At the hearing, Mr Weatherill, who is strategic lead on Covid for the National Police Chiefs Council, said: “Introducing them in the way that we have done has introduced greater confusion.

“We are all struggling with that. Where there is confusion, there is an opportunity for people to become worn down and confused and less likely to comply.

“I made strong representations that we should look for simplified, consistent tiers that would be the same wherever they were applied. That’s what I thought was going to happen ten days ago.

“The reality now is already starting to drift, and as we are seeing with Tier Three, there are nuances creeping in.”

Half of Brits are now living in areas with either tier two or three restrictions – with rules including everything from a ban on casual sex to the closure of bars.

Scotland Yard had written to business-owners struggling under the new 10pm curfew to urge them to ask for names, addresses – and even photo ID.

Officers said they believe the checks will stop people joining mates from a different household for a pint inside – which is banned under the rules.

But the Met Police were forced into an embarrassing U-turn after being threatened with legal action from the industry.

Business chiefs say the request places "completely unacceptable" demands on staff, and won't prove whether clientele are from the same household or not.

People living in tier two areas can visit pubs and restaurants.

But they're only allowed to sit indoors with members of their own household.

Up to six people from different households can gather outside, as long as they're seated.

Pub-goers caught breaking the rules face a £200 fine but pubs and restaurants risk a £1,000 penalty.

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