Coronavirus: If you ignore lockdown could you be hit with fines or a court appearance
PUBLISHED: 15:20 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:46 24 March 2020
Anyone who ignores the lockdown imposed by the government in the wake of coronavirus will be fined £30 and could end up in court if they refuse to pay, it has emerged.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered that people adhere to a lockdown to tackle coronavirus which has so far claimed the lives of more than 330 people in the UK.
In a televised address to the nation on Monday night, the prime minister detailed a short list of reasons why people can leave their homes as he ordered the immediate closure of all shops selling non-essentials.
Mr Johnson said tougher restrictions on people’s movements during the crisis would be enforced by police and warned those ignoring them would be fined.
Officers will have powers to disperse gatherings under a ban on meetings of more than two people apart from those who live together.
On Tuesday, Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister issued a clear instruction on behalf of the government on the actions the public are required to take to help prevent the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.
“As with existing laws, the overwhelming majority of the public can be expected to follow the rules without any need for enforcement action.
“We would expect that compliance to begin immediately.”
The punishment would be a fixed penalty notice initially set at £30 but “we will keep this under review and can increase it significantly if it is necessary to ensure public compliance”.
“You would expect the police’s focus to be dispersal of groups,” the prime minister’s spokesman said.
Failure to pay a penalty notice could be subject to criminal proceedings and a conviction, he added.
Regulations will be made by Thursday at the latest to allow police to issue fines under the 1984 Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act for England and Wales.
The emergency legislation going through the House of Commons will provide equivalent powers to Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Norfolk’s chief constable Simon Bailey has called on people to follow the advice and said his officers would be working with people to make them understand that the measures were ultimately “for everyone’s benefit”.