Former home secretary Dame Priti Patel has acknowledged that there was no way to prevent Covid from entering the country through Britain’s borders in early 2020. She admitted that there was no technical capability, such as temperature testing, to control the spread of the virus among people arriving in the UK at the beginning of the pandemic. During her appearance before the Covid inquiry, she stated that the necessary skills and capabilities were simply not available at that time. Dame Priti was in charge of the Home Office throughout the Covid crisis in 2020 and 2021.
She provided evidence to the official probe into the pandemic following revelations from former top police chief Martin Hewitt. Hewitt, who chaired the National Police Chiefs’ Council during the Covid crisis, described how he was given only 16 minutes’ notice of new lockdown rules by then health secretary Matt Hancock. According to Hewitt, Hancock sent over new legislation close to midnight, just before it was due to come into effect.
The article includes an image of Dame Priti Patel and a video of her giving evidence to the Covid inquiry.Former home secretary Priti Patel testified at the UK Covid-19 Inquiry, where she admitted that in the early stages of the pandemic, there was no capability to prevent the arrival of coronavirus in the UK through the borders. This included measures such as temperature testing to restrict the spread of the virus.
The ex-Cabinet minister acknowledged that there was a lack of technical capability to implement measures like temperature testing to control the spread of coronavirus among people entering the UK at the beginning of the pandemic.
During the inquiry, Priti Patel revealed that there was no ability to prevent the arrival of coronavirus in the UK through the borders in the early stages of the pandemic. This lack of technical capability included measures like temperature testing.
Former health secretary Matt Hancock was also implicated during the inquiry. It was revealed that he had sent new Covid rules to police chiefs just 16 minutes before they were due to be enforced.
The inquiry shed light on the fact that there was no technical capability, such as temperature testing, to restrict the spread of coronavirus through people arriving in the UK at the start of the pandemic. This was acknowledged by former home secretary Priti Patel.
Former health secretary Matt Hancock faced scrutiny during the inquiry when it was revealed that he had sent new Covid rules to police chiefs only 16 minutes before they were supposed to be enforced.
The lack of technical capability to prevent the arrival of coronavirus in the UK through the borders was highlighted during the inquiry. This included measures like temperature testing, as stated by former home secretary Priti Patel.
Former health secretary Matt Hancock came under fire during the inquiry for sending new Covid rules to police chiefs with only 16 minutes’ notice before they were meant to be implemented.The enforcement of border restrictions during the Covid crisis was discussed during the inquiry. Lead counsel Hugo Keith KC pointed out the lack of practical capability to restrict the infection through the border in February and March 2020. He also highlighted the absence of a sophisticated or effective system that could have been implemented when the virus emerged. Dame Priti agreed with these observations, stating that the skills and capabilities were simply not there at that stage. She admitted that there were no sophisticated or developed plans for border controls in early 2020 and that she and her colleagues had to work out step-by-step what to do. She also mentioned that she received advice suggesting that strict border measures would have minimal impact in preventing the spread of the virus. Additionally, she revealed that the government did not have the capability for practical measures such as heat-testing people at the border. In his own evidence, Martin Hewitt described how he had to delay enforcing new coronavirus laws because he received the legislation only 16 minutes before it was supposed to come into force.Mr Hewitt explained that briefing documents needed to be translated into Welsh before being shared. He had a conversation with the home secretary at the time, Dame Priti, where he made it clear that a certain regulation would not be enforced immediately. It would take some time for the police officers to understand what they needed to do. The next morning, ministers were discussing the issue on television and radio, so Mr Hewitt had to clarify that the regulation would not be enforced immediately to avoid confusion. Baroness Hallett, the chairwoman of the inquiry, criticized the legislation that gave police the power to direct people to be tested for Covid and enforce medical directions. She questioned the purpose of such powers and highlighted the uncertainties and practical challenges associated with the legislation. Mr Hewitt agreed with her and expressed his difficulty in forming reasonable grounds to suggest someone may be infected with an invisible virus. He also mentioned the challenges faced by law-abiding citizens in keeping up with rapidly changing laws and the added difficulty of policing different regulations in neighboring areas. The constant changes and frustrations with the regulations affected the morale of police officers. Dame Priti clarified that the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) was responsible for Covid laws, and the Home Office pushed back against DHSC when they wanted to introduce last-minute regulations. However, DHSC would proceed with the changes regardless. She described the situation as sub-optimal at every level. She also admitted that the £10,000 fine for Covid rule breaches was not proportionate. When asked about the proportionality of the fine, she acknowledged that it was very high and not appropriate.Dame Priti recognized the necessity of implementing a new system in future pandemics to establish regulations that would prevent the legal confusion witnessed during the Covid crisis.
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