Coronavirus: ‘Isolation fatigue’ could see lockdown ignored if extended beyond Easter, police warn

Peter Stubley
A police officer approaches a sunbather in Greenwich Park, south London: REUTERS

A police and crime commissioner has warned that “isolation fatigue” could damage the effectiveness of the coronavirus lockdown if it is extended beyond Easter.

Hardyal Dhindsa, the elected official for Derbyshire, said the restrictions would be increasingly tested in two or three weeks as the public becomes frustrated.

“How long can we keep a lockdown going?”, he asked. “In this early phase of isolation, people’s awareness is quite high, but the longer it goes on, people’s frustration at not being able to do what they want to will grow.”

He made the comments to The Observer as government ministers, police and local officials urged the public to take social distancing measures seriously in order to save lives during the outbreak.

The government is widely expected to extend the lockdown beyond its current end date of Easter Monday.

On Saturday cabinet secretary Michael Gove suggested that younger people in particular appeared to be flouting the new rules.

“There has been evidence that for some young people, there has been a lower level of compliance,” he told the daily briefing.

“It may be that young people feel that they are less likely to be affected and less likely to be infected.”

It came as increasing numbers of people were tempted outside to enjoy the warmest weekend the UK has seen in six months.

Images posted on social media showed large crowds in London Fields in Hackney and Battersea Park.

Lambeth Council in south London responded to a surge in visitors to Brockwell Park by announcing it would be closed on Sunday.

“Despite clear advice, over 3000 people spent today in Brockwell Park, many of them sunbathing or in large groups,” the council tweeted. ”This is unacceptable.”

In the North East, surfers were pictured on the beach at Tynemouth, while two people in East Sussex were caught breaching lockdown regulations by having a BBQ on Hove beach.

Several councils have closed car parks to deter people from travelling to the countryside and open spaces during the lockdown.

The Met Office are forecasting temperatures of up to 24C next week, particularly in England and Wales.

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