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Police chief warns lockdown rulebreakers will be fined

Written by on 5 November 2020

Police will hand out fines to people who refuse to follow encouragement to abide by new national lockdown rules in England, a top officer has warned.

From today, socialising away from your household bubble is banned, and non-essential retail, pubs, bars and restaurants have all been forced to close, as part of new restrictions aimed at stemming the sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

Fines of up to GBP10,000 could be handed out to those who flout the new rules, which are set to last until at least 2 December.

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And the chair of the National Police Chief’s Council, Martin Hewitt, urged the public to abide by the rules, saying “these are health regulations that are there to protect people, to stop the NHS being overwhelmed” – while also warning that officers will hand out the fines if they need to.

“We will engage with people, we will explain the regulations… and then we’ll encourage people to abide by the regulations if they’re not,” Mr Hewitt says.

“If people don’t abide by the regulations, and don’t follow our encouragement, then we will enforce, and we will use the tickets that have been made available.

“I get this is difficult, it’s difficult for all of us as much as it is for any other member of the public, it’s affecting people’s lives, but people who are deliberately flouting the rules are endangering people’s lives and they are breaking the law and we’ll deal with that.”

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A number of GBP10,000 fines have already been handed out across England for people who have broken the rules, including students who threw a house party in Nottingham, and the organiser of a mass rave near Bristol.

Mr Hewitt added that although encouragement to follow the rules would be given to rulebreakers who organise gatherings, “it will not be much encouragement” before they are handed fines.

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Fines can also be dished out to people who fail to wear face coverings unless they have exemptions, or those who fail to self-isolate when told to.

Police can also issue penalties to businesses that are supposed to be closed, or to those who meet more than one other person in a public or private space, unless they are part of a household bubble.

On Wednesday, MPs in the House of Commons voted to place England under lockdown measures from Thursday, following similar moves in Wales and Northern Ireland in an effort to try and slow the rise in infection rates.