The UK government has confirmed that members of the public could be handed fines of as much as £10,000 for failing to comply with coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown restrictions.
Fines will start at £1,000 and subsequently rise to £10,000 for repeat offenders.
This includes those who refuse to self-isolate, those who stop others from self-isolating – such as an employer who asks a staff member to come into work in violation of an order – and breaches of the rule of six / organised large gatherings.
Penalties also apply to people who fail to quarantine for 14 days after returning home from a country on the UK’s quarantine list.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “People who choose to ignore the rules will face significant fines. We need to do all we can to control the spread of this virus, to prevent the most vulnerable people from becoming infected, and to protect the NHS and save lives.”
So, what exactly can you be fined for under the latest lockdown restrictions?
Rule of Six
As of 14th September 2020, new laws came into force banning groups of six or more gathering inside or outside in England, but this does not apply to areas where tighter local lockdown restrictions already apply, including a number of areas in Greater Manchester and the North West region.
Those who are found to be in breach of the Rule of Six can be dispersed by police and issued with a fine.
Fines start at £100 and will double for each further offence up to £3,200.
Exceptions to the rule include COVID-safe workplaces, educational settings and permitted private gatherings eg: weddings and funerals.
The wearing of a face covering is a mandatory requirement in all supermarkets, shops and public transport and is advised in all settings where necessary social-distancing cannot be carried out.
Under these new regulations, it is stated that fines of up to £100 will be enforced by police officers for those whole fail to comply.
This fine will be reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.
As officially named by the UK government, people who fall into a number of categories are exempt from wearing a face covering, but must be able to provide necessary proof if challenged on this.
Facilitating Large Gatherings
The UK government announced last month that police in England have been given the power to distribute fines to the organisers of illegal gatherings.
Those responsible could be hit with five-figure penalties for playing their part in arranging events with more than 30 people.
Under this new legislation, fines can potentially rise up to £10,000.
Refusal to Self-Isolate
People will be required by law to self-isolate from 28th September 2020.
New fines for those breaching self-isolation rules will start at £1,000 – bringing this in line with the penalty for breaking quarantine after international travel – but could increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and for “the most egregious breaches”.
People handed £10,000 maximum fines can include those preventing others from self-isolating, eg: employers.
Speaking on the matter, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“The best way we can fight this virus is by everyone following the rules and self-isolating if they’re at risk of passing on coronavirus, and so nobody underestimates just how important this is, new regulations will mean you are legally obliged to do so if you have the virus or have been asked to do so by NHS Test and Trace.”
The UK government has announced the introduction of a new £500 Test and Trace Support payment for those on low incomes who are required by NHS Test and Trace to remain at home to help stop the spread of the virus.
More information on the support available can be found here.
What are the differences in fines across the UK?
Those aged 18 and over in England can be fined £100 for the first offence, which can be lowered to £50 if paid within 14 days and then double on each repeat offence up to a maximum of £3,200.
This differs elsewhere though as in Scotland, people aged 16 and over can be fined £60 for each further offence up to a maximum of £960, and people aged 18 and over in Wales and Northern Ireland can be fined £60 for the first offence, which is lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days and doubled for each repeat offence up to a £960 maximum.
For the latest information, guidance and support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK, please do refer to official sources at gov.uk/coronavirus.