Police now have the powers to serve on the spot fines of £30 if people ignore the government’s new stay at home orders.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Britons on Monday evening that they now have to stay at home in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus, apart from for medical reasons, critical work, shopping and exercise once a day
Fines for breaching the new coronavirus lockdown measures will be set at £30 in England but could rise significantly, Downing Street said.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister issued a clear instruction on behalf of the government on the actions the public are required to take to help prevent the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.
“As with existing laws, the overwhelming majority of the public can be expected to follow the rules without any need for enforcement action.
“We would expect that compliance to begin immediately.”
He continued: “The punishment for non-compliance would be a fixed penalty notice initially set at £30 but we will keep this under review and can increase it significantly if it is necessary to ensure public compliance.”
The news comes after the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK surged by 967 to 6,650 on Monday and the national death toll jumped to 336, with 55 new cases confirmed.
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock warned: “These measures are not advice.
“They are rules and will be enforced, including by the police with fines starting at £30 up to unlimited fines for non-compliance.”
In a historic address, the Prime Minister said police forces will have the powers to enforce the new measures, including by issuing fines and dispersing gatherings.
Over the weekend, crowds of people were witnessed visiting open spaces across many parts of the UK, at times flouting official social distancing advice.
Some have already criticised the lack of clarity around the new measures and questioned whether a £30 fine would be enough to enforce the lockdown.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain today, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said he believes people will exercise their own “common sense” when it comes to following the new guidelines.
He said: “The police do have enforcement powers under the Public Health Act, there are powers to ensure that people do comply with everything that we’ve said.
“But overall I have confidence that the British people will use their common sense or follow the very clear guidance that the government has given.”
Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, told Sky News enforcing the new measures was going to be a major challenge for the force.
“It will be very, very challenging and very difficult for us with what’s put in front of us,” said Mr Marsh.
“But we don’t actually know what is being put in front of us yet other than we’re going to be asked to disperse crowds, it’s going to be a real, real challenge.”