PEOPLE flouting government restrictions to limit the spread of Covid-19 were warned they could be fined hundreds of pounds or arrested as police were granted new enforcement powers.
The emergency measures passed by parliament allow forces across the country to take action against members of the public who fail to comply with government orders to restrict activity.
Under the new rules, residents should not leave their homes unless it is strictly necessary for one of the following purposes:
- Shopping for basic household necessities, as infrequently as possible
- One form of exercise a day, such as a run, walk or cycle alone or with members of the same household
- Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
- Travelling to and from work, but only when work cannot be done from home
Gatherings of more than two people are banned, unless they are members of the same household or in very limited circumstances.
Those who fail to comply may face the following actions from police:
- An instruction to go home, leave an area or disperse
- Checks to ensure parents are taking necessary steps to stop their children breaking the rules
- A fixed penalty notice of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days
- A fixed penalty notice of £120 for second time offenders, which will then be doubled for each further repeat offence
Failure to pay fixed penalty notices under the regulations could result in court action, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.
Those who persistently refuse to comply are warned they would be acting unlawfully and may be arrested when deemed proportionate and necessary.
Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane called on everyone to take personal responsibility for doing the necessary and right things to save lives and reduce risk.
Mr Lane paid tribute to the “vast majority” of people across Hampshire who have been cooperating with the unprecedented restrictions so far.
But he said: “These additional powers are to give further encouragement to those few who are not conforming to understand that this cannot be allowed to continue and inappropriate and risky behaviour will ultimately come with penalties through enforcement.
“Policing’s first action though will be to engage, explain and encourage those creating risk to return home, obey social distancing and not to congregate. Ultimately, if this does not create the right response, the additional powers are welcome options to have.”
Dorset Police Chief Constable James Vaughan welcomed the new powers, saying resources had been shifted and capacity created to ensure enough officers were available to enforce them.
“Our officers and staff are proactively patrolling our communities, stopping people and vehicles to ensure people are not flouting these restrictions,” he said.
“So far I am reassured with the response from our public in Dorset, who in the main are taking sensible steps and are adhering to the advice.”
With the Easter holidays having started for some areas of the country, Mr Vaughan reminded people they should still not be making non-essential outings. These include driving to exercise and visit public locations or beauty spots.
He concluded: “We must all do our part to pull together and protect our loved ones, our friends, colleagues and neighbours. These powers are in place to save lives. Please stay at home.”
As reported in the A&T, police patrolling the coastline between Milford and Barton expressed frustration at seeing many people flouting the lockdown by sitting out in the sun and warned they were putting lives at risk.
What do you think? Write to the Advertiser and Times letters page via email@example.com.