An NHS boss has compared breaking the lockdown rules to turning on a light in the middle of a blackout during the Blitz.

Dr Vin Diwakar, NHS England regional medical director for London, speaking at a coronavirus briefing on Thursday said: "This is the biggest health emergency to face this country since the Second World War.

“For me and my colleagues in the NHS breaking the rules in the way that’s been described today is like switching on a light in the middle of the blackout in the Blitz.

“It doesn’t just put you at risk in your house, it puts your whole street and the whole of your community at risk.”

His message came after the Home Secretary, who led the conference from Downing Street, said a small minority of people are continuing to flout restrictions.

Priti Patel announced a new £800 fine for those organising and attending house parties amid lockdown, which will come into force next week.

Anyone attending an illegal gathering of more than 15 people would be at risk of receiving a fine, up to a maximum amount of £6,400 for repeat offences.

Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, also speaking at the conference, welcomed the new fine.

Mr Hewitt said large gatherings such as house parties are “dangerous, irresponsible, and totally unacceptable”.

Police issuing a fine (stock image)

He illustrated examples of illegal gatherings that had occurred, including one in Hertfordshire which had 150 people.

Mr Hewitt said there has been a significant increase in lockdown breaches with police taking more targeted action, and official figures will be released next week.

He spoke of incidents where police officers had not only been put at risk of contracting the virus, but exposed to abuse and assault.

Since regulations were introduced in August, Mr Hewitt said 250 fines of £10,000 had been issued across England to organisers of large gatherings.

"I make no apology for those fines," he said.

"Now anyone who attends one of these gatherings can expect to receive a £800 fine."