Andover’s MP has said that the public must take the rules “very, very seriously” to ensure that the current national lockdown is the last.

Speaking to Sky News, Kit Malthouse, the crime and policing minister, said: “We are at a very, very perilous stage in the progress of this virus through our country.

“If we are going to get through this in good shape, and if we make sure that this is the last, big lockdown of the country, it’s very important that we all stick to the rules, and we see very high compliance.

“The vast majority of people are complying happily, well, not happily, miserably, but complying, and recognising the emergency that we face.

He added: “Unfortunately, we haven’t seen that in some parts of the country from a minority of people who are, frankly, letting the rest of us down.”

The MP subsequently discussed measures that police were taking to enforce Covid restrictions across the country, saying that police should be able to ask where people are going. His comments follow some high-profile incidents where police officers were criticised for targeting those taking exercise by driving.

He told Times Radio: “It’s certainly part of police’s job to stop people and enquire as to the reasons why they’re outside their house.

“It is a very significant change and it’s a challenge for British policing that relies on a model of consent.

“Such is the seriousness of the situation that we face that I think there’s no other option.”

He said officers were “trying to strike a balance” between enforcing rules and having public consent, adding: “I think most people would think that was reasonable.”

As of Tuesday, January 12, 3,348 people had tested positive for the coronavirus in Test Valley, with 146 deaths attributed to the disease.