Chatting over a cuppa should not be a crime

Police have fined a man for visiting a friend for tea.

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Topics Politics UK

Covid authoritarianism is out of control. Police in Manchester have fined a man for having a cup of tea with a friend.

On Facebook, officers from Greater Manchester Police said a man had gone to his friend’s house in Lowton, near Wigan, for tea, and that ‘to make matters worse he tried to lie about why he was there’. They gave him a fixed-penalty fine.

National lockdown rules do not permit members of separate households to gather indoors except in specific circumstances – such as if those involved are part of a support bubble. People breaching the strict rules are liable to a £200 fine (reduced to £100 if paid within 14 days).

This ridiculous tea-policing is only the latest example of police overreach during the pandemic. Last month, a police and crime commissioner said officers might enter homes to break up illegal gatherings at Christmas. This is despite the fact that, as human-rights barrister Adam Wagner has pointed out, police cannot legally enter homes without a warrant.

The same month, armed police turned up to close down a gym in Liverpool, giving the owner a fine of £1,000 for failing to shut. Police have also repeatedly issued Covid fines on incorrect legal bases.

All these examples point to the authoritarianism of lockdown. There is no evidence it will work, and yet restrictions are so extreme that we are being told how we can celebrate Christmas and whether we can drink tea with friends. Our privacy and our most basic liberties have been stripped to the bone.

The police – and the government – need to wind their necks in and stop trying to control every aspect of our lives.

Picture by: Getty.

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