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Coronavirus: Police arresting people claiming to have disease, Assembly told as patrols to increase

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Police displaying possible mild symptoms of Covid-19 should receive testing, PSNI ACC Alan Todd said (David Young/PA)

Police displaying possible mild symptoms of Covid-19 should receive testing, PSNI ACC Alan Todd said (David Young/PA)

Police displaying possible mild symptoms of Covid-19 should receive testing, PSNI ACC Alan Todd said (David Young/PA)

The Assembly has been told people are pretending to have coronavirus and are coughing and spitting at shopkeepers in Northern Ireland.

It comes as the PSNI said it was fully supportive of the lockdown measures introduced by the Prime Minister and are to increase patrols

New legislation is in the process of becoming law. As the matter was debated in the Assembly many MLAs said they could never support such measures in normal times but would do so as it was the right thing to do to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The Assembly heard how police were already having to arrest people "claiming to have coronavirus".

"We have heard horrendous tales from shopkeepers who have been spat at and coughed over by people that think it was funny," SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said.

Police said they would be combing through the fine details of the new laws to determine their response.

Our response will be proportionate, however at times we will have no option but to enforce them for the greater good of everyone Alan Todd

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: "“The new legislation is expected imminently and we will carefully consider the implications this will have on allowing us to act in support of public health officials. I would remind everyone these measures have been introduced to save lives during this global emergency.

“In the meantime, PSNI officers will continue to serve its communities in order to protect life and ensure the safety and wellbeing of people. Today, and in coming days, our officers will be there to explain what these changes mean for different members of the public, sections of community and businesses affected.

“We will be working through the finer details of this legislation over the coming days. Therefore, until the new legislation is in place, we will be increasing police patrols in key areas across Northern Ireland to engage with and provide guidance to anyone who contravenes the measures.

"When the legislation is active we will continue to provide guidance to those who are failing to comply with these life-saving measures. Our response will be proportionate, however at times we will have no option but to enforce them for the greater good of everyone.

“Our priority throughout these challenging times remain to keep people safe and protect our communities. Please, help us keep you safe by adhering to these new measures.”

Belfast Telegraph