What are the fines for breaking lockdown?

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  • With a third lockdown in place across the whole of England, knowing the rules and sticking to them is more important than ever before to avoid being fined.

    Fines for breaking lockdown have been issued to those who fail to self-isolate when returning from a country on the quarantine list or refuse to self-isolate after being told to do so by Track and Trace. It can also include breaking the January lockdown rules by gathering in a group of more than two people outside of your household or support bubble, hosting large events or refusing to abide by coronavirus restrictions. 

    According to the latest police data, officers in England handed out 1,977 fines for breaking Covid lockdown rules during the second lockdown in the first two weeks of November. Before the second lockdown, there were 24,993 fines were handed out by police officers in England and Wales between 27 March and 16 November. 

    Speaking to BBC Breakfast on the day that the second national lockdown in England was announced, Robert Buckland confirmed that the police would continue their approach of “policing by consent” to encourage people to follow the rules but added that they would respond to “egregious breaches” and the law would “take its course” if people continued to flout the restrictions.

    He added, “Where a more intense intervention is needed then the police will be involved and of course the fine structure is still in force.”

    As standard, the police are following their rule of “The Four Es”: Engage with people, to ask why they appear to be breaking the rules, explain the law, stressing the risks to public health and the NHS, encourage them to change their behaviour and lastly, enforce the rules by issuing fines.

    But now, Police Chief Cressida Dick has warned that anyone found breaking the rules will be “increasingly likely to face fines” as “it is preposterous to me that anyone could be unaware of our duty to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus,”.
    So what exactly are the standard fines for breaking the lockdown?

    What are the fines for breaking lockdown?

    The fines for breaking any of the lockdown restrictions depend on what part of the UK you are in. In all cases fines are issued for breaking the rules, especially if there are larger events that need to be shut down by the police.

    It’s been revealed that over 3000 fines were issued in Wales alone from March 27 to November 16 with almost 1 in 3 notices given to people aged between 18 to 24 years old. Just over 70% of these related to issues surrounding movement across the country.

    Fines for breaking lockdown in England

    In England, fines for breaking the lockdown start at £200 for the first offence. This can be lowered to £100 if it’s paid within the first 14 days. It’s £400 for the second offence, doubling up for each offence to as much as £6,400.

    Fines for breaking lockdown in Wales

    In Wales, it’s £60 for the first offence and this penalty can be reduced to just £30 if it’s paid within 14 days. The penalty then rises to £120 for the second offence and for each further offence after that.

    Fines for breaking lockdown in Scotland

    In Scotland, unlike elsewhere in the UK those over the age of 16 can be fined for breaking coronavirus restrictions. It’s £60 for the first offence, then lowered to £30 if paid within 28 days.

    It’s £120 for the second offence, which then doubles for further offences up to £960.

    ACC Alan Spiers said, “The policing approach we adopted from the outset of the pandemic will not change. Our officers will continue to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance, & encourage compliance. We will use enforcement as a last resort where there is a clear breach.

    “The Chief Constable has said publicly on numerous occasions that we will not be routinely stopping vehicles or setting up road blocks, and that will not change as a result of travel restrictions now being in law.

    “However, officers may in the course of their duties come across people who are travelling from one local authority area to another. In areas where travel restrictions apply, they will continue to use the common sense, discretion and excellent judgement they have applied so far.”

    Fines for breaking lockdown in Northern Ireland

    Much like Scotland and Wales, in Northern Ireland it’s £60 for the first offence which can be reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.

    It’s then £120 for the second offence, doubling each time up to a maximum fine of £960.

    What are the coronavirus rules you can be fined for breaking?

    Some of the coronavirus rules and restrictions you can be fined for are difficult to police. For example, while ‘mingling’ in the street is prohibited, the police can’t technically fine you for bumping into someone that you know when out and about. Equally, they don’t do door-to-door spot checks to see how many people from different households are in a house at any given time.

    However, if you’re caught by the police doing any of these things, then you can be fined…

    • Breaking the rule of six 
    • Not wearing a face covering on public transport or elsewhere when it’s required (unless you are medically exempt)
    • Breaking the quarantine rules after coming back from a country on the quarantine list 
    • Failing to self-isolate if you are contacted by track and trace 
    • Forcing someone else to break the quarantine rules 

    The level of penalty is dependent on the severity of the crime and whether you’ve committed the same offence before.

    A group of friends seven friends gathering - one of the reasons for lockdown fines in England

    Gatherings in groups of more than six, even if outside, is not allowed in England under the current rules. (Credit: Getty)

    Can you be fined for not wearing a face mask?

    Yes, you can receive a fine from the police for not wearing a face mask – if you’re not medically exempt from wearing one.

    While people aren’t required to wear masks outside, they do have to wear them inside supermarkets and shops during the lockdown and when the new tier lockdown system comes into place, those in tiers one and two will have to wear masks in pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues when not sat at a table. 

    Despite the rules being clear-cut, it seems that the police are hesitant to issue fines for not wearing a face mask. Statistics released by the NPCC show that just 89 fines were given out for breaching the rules on face coverings between June 15 and September 21.

    Of these fines given out, 61 were related to not wearing a face covering on public transport while less than 30 fines were given out for breaches of the rules in other public settings, such as shops.