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COVID-19: Almost 70,000 COVID lockdown fines handed out, with steep rise since Christmas

Written by on 25 February 2021

Police have handed out nearly 70,000 fines to people for breaching COVID-19 lockdown rules since they came into force, with more than 6,000 issued in a single week, new data shows.

Figures published by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) on Thursday show that a total of 68,952 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) were issues by forces.

Of this figure, 63,201 fines were handed out in England and 5,751 in Wales between 27 March last year and 14 February.

Fines shot up following the introduction of Tier 4 restrictions before Christmas, as well as the latest national lockdown in England on 4 January – reflecting a move towards quicker enforcement by police.

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Provisional figures show that 26,277 fines were processed in the month between 17 January and 14 February.

FPNs were handed out for the following reasons:

• Large gatherings – 272 £10,000 fines were issued for gatherings of more than 30 people in England and three in Wales

• Gatherings of more than 15 people – 485 £800 FPNs were issued for gatherings of more than 15 people

• Face masks – 2,344 FPNs were issued for breaches of the face coverings regulations between 15 June and 14 February

• Businesses – 582 FPNs were issued to businesses up to 14 February

• International travel regulations – 402 fines were issued in England and three in Wales to those failing to self-isolate after arriving from a country on government’s quarantine list

People wait on the concourse at Paddington Station in London, on the last Saturday shopping day before Christmas, after the announcement that London will move into Tier 4 Covid restrictions from midnight. Image: People waiting on the concourse at Paddington Station on the last Saturday shopping day before Christmas

A total of 4,752 fines were handed out in the seven days to 11 February, down from 6,218 the previous week, but higher than the first lockdown’s peak of 3,294 during the week of the Easter bank holiday in April.

This appears to be a steep rise compared with a few weeks ago, when it was reported that a total of 2,564 fines were issued in the seven days to 14 January, compared with 2,225 the previous week.

A man wears a facemask on his head in an almost empty central shopping area of Cardiff, Wales, where they are in alert level 4 lockdown on the first weekend of January sales, with many shops not open to browse. Image: Fines shot up following the introduction of Tier 4 restrictions before Christmas

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said: “We are still in a really dangerous stage of a pandemic which has killed more than 120,000 people.

“Eleven months on and back into a national lockdown, the rules are really clear and so it is frustrating that we still have a small number of completely defiant and irresponsible people who have no regard for the safety of themselves or others.”

The data shows that 272 £10,000 fines were handed to organisers of mass gatherings of more than 30 people, including illegal raves, parties and protests, in England, with three in Wales.

Meanwhile, 485 £800 tickets were issued to people attending gatherings of more than 15 people.

A person makes their way past an 'Act like you've got it' government coronavirus sign at a bus stop in Bournemouth, Dorset, during England's third national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. Picture date: Tuesday February 16, 2021. Image: A total of 2,344 fines were issued between 15 June and 14 February for breaches of face covering rules

For breaches of face coverings regulations, a total of 2,344 fines were issued between 15 June and 14 February in England, including 456 on public transport and 1,888 in relevant places such as shops.

Mr Hewitt added: “We all know we must wear a face covering in a shop or on a bus and we all know we can’t meet up in groups.

“We’re taking a common sense approach, applying discretion and judgement when engaging with the public.

“But common sense would dictate that someone having a party is well aware what they are doing is wrong and has made an informed decision to do it anyway”.

He said that police patrols across the country will continue to support those abiding by the rules “by taking enforcement action against those who are not”.

A total of 582 FPNs have been handed to businesses for breaches of regulations that came into force in England last September, including failures to enforce face masks, unlawfully staying open and hosting large gatherings or not sticking to table service rules.

The data also showed that 402 fines have been handed to people failing to self-isolate after arriving from a country on the government quarantine list up to 14 February in England and Wales.

However, the latest figures do not include regulations around hotel quarantine for those entering the country from red countries, which came into force on 15 February.

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