Covid-19: Warning over tough fines as new lockdown begins

3 weeks ago

A worker shuts the doors in a bar in Bristol city centre, ahead of a national lockdown for England from Thursday

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People who seriously flout new lockdown restrictions in England will face steep fines, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has warned.


the rules, people have been told to stay at home and non-essential shops, pubs and gyms ordered to close.

Households are also banned from mixing indoors or in private gardens, unless in a support bubble.

Currently there is a £200 fine for each breach which doubles on every offence up to a maximum of £6,400.

And organisers of large gatherings face a £10,000 fine.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Buckland said law enforcement would continue its approach of “policing by consent” to encourage the public to comply with the four-week lockdown.

But he added that police would respond to “egregious breaches” and then the law would “take its course”.

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

There will also be an expansion of the number of Covid marshals, who help ensure social distancing rules are followed in local communities, he said.

The National Police Chiefs Council has also warned the most serious offenders will face fines.

Mr Buckland said he supported the police clamping down on the “tiny minority” of people who are not willing to obey the lockdown.

“I think the message has to go out very clearly that this will only work if we all play our part,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Meanwhile, the chancellor is set to extend the furlough scheme until March, sources have told the BBC.

The full details will be unveiled in a statement by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Commons shortly. It is unclear if it will offer the full 80% of wages currently available to workers under the scheme.

The new lockdown, which came into effect at midnight, will “expire automatically” on 2 December, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

But the head of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called for an urgent extension of the furlough scheme until the spring to prevent job losses.

It comes as the governor of the Bank of England has vowed to do “everything we can” to support the economy amid a resurgence of Covid-19 cases – announcing a further £150bn of support. It has left interest rates on hold at a record low of 0.1%.

New lockdown rules from 5 November - Pubs and restaurants closed but takeaways permitted, Non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues closed, No household mixing inside, unless in your support bubble, Stay home – only leave for specific reasons including education and work

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On Wednesday, MPs backed the lockdown, which aims to combat a surge in coronavirus cases – and replaces the three tiers of regional restrictions that were previously in place across England.

There is expected to be another vote on the next steps needed to tackle the virus before the four-week lockdown ends.

Mr Johnson told MPs a second lockdown was “not something any of us wanted to do” but insisted the restrictions represented “the best and safest path for our country”.

It came as the UK recorded a further 492 coronavirus deaths – the highest daily figure since 19 May – and 25,177 confirmed cases.

Under the new restrictions, people should stay at home except for specific reasons including education and work, if it cannot be done from home.

All non-essential retailers, leisure and entertainment venues must shut, with pubs and restaurants told to close except for takeaways.

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Shoppers in England flocked to stores to make last-minute purchases on Wednesday, with some retailers extending their opening hours to cope with the huge demand.

Unlike the first lockdown in March, schools, universities, and nurseries will remain open, and people will be able to meet another person who they do not live with in an outdoor public place such as a park or beach.

The rules say people cannot mix with anyone they do not live with indoors or in private gardens.

In other developments:

  • The latest NHS Test and Trace figures – for the week to 28 October – show turnaround times for the system are slightly better than last week, with 26% of in-person tests provided results with 24 hours, up from 23%
  • A group of Conservative MPs in northern England has warned the prime minister not to leave constituencies “locked into lockdown” indefinitely
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said people are allowed to leave their homes for the purpose of travelling abroad for assisted dying during the lockdown
  • The justice secretary said the government’s new guidance on safe visits for care homes is “non-exhaustive”, after campaign groups and charities said it was impractical and lacked detail
  • Sainsbury’s has announced 3,500 job cuts, mainly from the Argos chain it bought in 2016
  • Captain Sir Tom Moore has launched a new campaign to get people walking to help support those who feel “lonely and frightened” during lockdown

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