People who break Coronavirus rules are ‘increasingly likely’ to face fines, it has been said, with Coronavirus cases and hospital admissions continuing to rise rapidly across the UK.
Writing in The Times on Tuesday, Metropolitan Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said “it is clear we have entered a new and urgent phase in our struggle against this terrible virus”, but also said that Londoners have been hosting house parties and events despite this.
There are fears that some people are taking the current lockdown measures less seriously than the first lockdown last March. The Coronavirus situation is though considerably worse than in the first lockdown in terms of there being much more pressure on the NHS and much higher case rates, fuelled by a new, more transmissible variant of the virus.
The Government has refused to rule out tighter restrictions being implemented, though Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that support bubble arrangements would not be removed in any further restrictions. Speaking to BBC Breakfast policing minister Kit Malthouse said that people have a “duty” to make this lockdown “the last one” and that those who don’t follow restrictions are “much more likely to get fined by the police”.
Fines in England for breaking Coronavirus rules currently start at £200, though these can escalate to £10,000 for the most serious breaches, such as hosting large parties. Similar fine structures are in place in the devolved administrations.
The Government is hoping that efforts to mass vaccinate the population will allow a reduction in restrictions over the coming months, though restrictions of some degree are expected to continue for some time. So far, more than 2.3 million people in the UK have had a first dose of a Coronavirus vaccine in the UK, with more mass-vaccination centres set to open in the coming days.
England is currently in a national lockdown, meaning tough restrictions are already in place. New restrictions are likely to target shopping in supermarkets, exercise and also changes to enforcement measures, such as fines.
While there are warnings of increased enforcement, Boris Johnson has been accused of causing confusion over lockdown rules, with the Prime Minister reported to be seen cycling seven miles from Downing Street. Under current rules, you may exercise once a day in your local area, however, some have claimed that 7 miles is not ‘local.’ It comes days after two women in Derbyshire were fined £200 by police (a fine which has since been withdrawn) after driving five miles from home to take a walk.
England’s guidance reads: “Stay local means stay in the village, town, or part of the city where you live.” Government ministers have defended the Prime Minister, saying that he did not break lockdown rules.