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Army could be used to help police enforce coronavirus laws, warns Boris Johnson

THE Army could be used to help police enforce coronavirus laws, Boris Johnson warned today.

Five hundred soldiers, currently on standby, would guard sites such as Downing Street, parliament and nuclear power plants – to free up cops responding to coronavirus calls.

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Troops from three battalions will step-in if armed police are overstretched.

Plans seen by The Sun show infantry soldiers, armed with SA80 assault rifles, are ready to be drafted in.

Around 500 troops will form the first wave of reinforcements with 12 hours notice to move, defence sources said.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “To further free up the police to have a greater presence on our streets they will have the option to draw on military support, where required, using tried and tested mechanisms.

“This would involve the military backfilling certain duties, such as office roles and guarding protected sites, so police officers can be out enforcing the virus response.

Today’s fresh plan includes:

“This is not about providing any additional powers to the military, or them replacing the police in enforcement roles, and they will not be handing out fines. It is about freeing up more police officers.“

The Prime Minister told MPs: “We will provide the police and local authorities with the extra funding they need, a greater police presence on our streets, and the option to draw on military support where required to free up the police.”

Police chiefs would decide where to deploy the military and soldiers would not take over, and currently the National Police Chiefs Council believes: “At the moment, no military involvement is necessary, nor do we anticipate this will be needed.”

But troops may be covertly moved around the country according to the secret doc.

‘Operation Temperer’ was launched for the first time in 2017 after the bombing of an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena which killed 23 people and wounded 139 fans.

The PM said he did not want to have to restrict freedoms further but warned the nation he would do so if people don’t stick to the rules.

He said Britain has reached a “perilous turning point”, adding: “In the last fortnight daily hospital admissions in England have more than doubled.

“Tens of thousands of daily infections in October would, as night follows day, lead to hundreds of daily deaths in November and those numbers would continue to grow unless we act.”

He revealed the restrictions, which include pubs and restaurants closing at 10pm and meeting in groups of no more than six people, could be in place for six months.

He told the Commons: “I fervently want to avoid taking this step, as do the devolved administrations but we will only be able to avoid it if our new measures work and our behaviour changes.

“For the time being, this virus is a fact of our lives and I must tell the House and the country that our fight against it will continue.”

He warned the virus is getting worse across the country, and extra measures need to be put in place now to avoid another national lockdown.

The PM said: “A stitch in time saves nine. But this is by no means a return to a full lockdown as in March

Mr Johnson said the hospitality sector will be restricted to table service only, and emphasised the need for people to follow social-distancing guidance, wear face coverings and wash their hands regularly.

We will provide the police and local authorities with the extra funding they need, a greater police presence on our streets, and the option to draw on military support where required to free up the police.

Brits were earlier told to work from home if they can in a huge shift away from the ‘back to work’ message.

After weeks of telling people to go back into their offices, today Michael Gove confirmed there had been a change of tack to stop the spread of the bug.

The nation has been told they should limit the number of households that people are coming into contact with to minimise the risk of infection.

People in the North and Midlands are already banned from visiting others in their homes or gardens, or hanging out with people they do not live with in pubs.

The Covid threat level was raised from three to four yesterday, meaning the virus is running amok across the country — signalling six months of further misery.

Chief medical adviser Chris Whitty warned everyone has a part to play in stopping the disease, insisting: “This is not someone else’s problem, this is all of our problems.”

A senior Whitehall source said: “Every option comes with a very big stick.”

The PM will chair an emergency meeting of Cobra this morning — the first in months — and summon his Cabinet to sign off his new clampdown.

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