Police are more likely to fine rule breakers (file photo) (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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Britain's most senior police officer warned coronavirus rule-breakers they are "increasingly likely" to face fines.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said forces would move "more quickly" to enforce lockdown restrictions.

She said it was "preposterous" that anyone could be unaware of the need to follow the stringent measures designed to curb coronavirus cases.

Writing in The Times, she said: "It is preposterous to me that anyone could be unaware of our duty to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus.

"We have been clear that those who breach Covid-19 legislation are increasingly likely to face fines."

However, her comments came as law enforcement sources told the Guardian that police officers would not enforce mask-wearing in supermarkets – despite a Government crackdown on compliance.

A customer wearing a face mask shops at a Sainsbury's supermarket (file photo)
(Image: REUTERS)

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Supermarket chain Morrisons said on Monday that customers who refuse to wear a mask without a medical exemption will be told to leave stores, while Sainsbury's also said its security staff would "challenge" shoppers who were not wearing masks or entering stores in groups.

In a further crackdown, police in Devon and Cornwall are using surveillance cameras to track down motorists breaching coronavirus lockdown rules, according to reports.

The force is deploying automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology to make sure
only essential journeys are being made.

The cameras monitor traffic and can flag up any vehicle registered outside of the area.

Devon and Cornwall are using surveillance cameras to track down motorists (file photo)
(Image: Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo)

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Alison Hernandez, the police and crime commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, told The Times the use of ANPR was “innovative and necessary”.

She said: “I was saddened to hear reports of hundreds of Covid breaches over the weekend, many of which are understood to be related to second homes.

"Using this technology helps us see where certain vehicles have come from and allows officers to further investigate their reasons for travel.”

Meanwhile, ministers are reported to be mulling over introducing tougher measures in England, with the wearing of face masks outdoors and banning exercise with people not in their household bubble said to be under consideration.

Law enforcement sources reportedly said police officers would not enforce mask-wearing in supermarkets (file photo)
(Image: REUTERS)

Tory former health minister Steve Brine led calls for an end to non-essential takeaway sales, including coffee, telling BBC Two's Newsnight: "There are so many things that we are doing, which are allowed in the rules… but I just don't think they are wise right now."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned on Monday that the NHS is under "very significant pressure" and told the public to reduce all social contact that is "not absolutely strictly necessary" in a bid to cut cases.

His warning came as NHS England data showed there were 32,070 Covid-19 patients in English hospitals as of 8am on Monday. The figure is up 20% compared to last week, and up 81% since Christmas Day.

A further 529 people died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus as of Monday, bringing the UK total to 81,960 – though separate figures show there have now been 97,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.

Mr Hancock told a Downing Street press conference: "The NHS, more than ever before, needs everybody to be doing something right now – and that something is to follow the rules.

"I know there has been speculation about more restrictions, and we don't rule out taking further action if it is needed, but it is your actions now that can make a difference.

"Stay at home, and please reduce all social contact that is not absolutely strictly necessary. That's what is needed: act like you have the virus."