Introducing fines of up to £3,200 for breaching lockdown restrictions is a new measure.
Fines for breach of lockdown restrictions have been a feature of regulations since the start of lockdown. The regulations restricting gatherings of more than 30 people outdoors, and the further restrictions in specific areas such as the North of England, already allow for increasing fine tariffs for repeat offences, with the sixth offence coming in at £3,200. What is ‘new’ is the announcement to extend that scheme to include face covering, where the relevant regulations previously only provided for fines at £100, reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.
The fines can be issued to anyone aged 18 or over.
At 14th August when publishing this post, regulations had not yet been published to www.legislation.co.uk but it may be expected that they will come in from Saturday 15th August and repeat the existing scheme. That being the case, the six levels of fines are as follows:
- 1st: £100
- 2nd: £200
- 3rd: £400
- 4th: £800
- 5th: £1,600
- 6th and subsequent: £3,200
Mixing up the offences
The increasing tariffs don’t require repetition of the same offence. If caught having a cup of tea in Gran’s house in Manchester (1st offence £100), then going to the shop for the sugar you’d forgotten but not wearing a face covering (2nd offence, £200) that would be two offences at a total cost of £300. Six offences totals an outlay of £6,300, with further offences being fined at £3,200 each.
Who can issue the fines
The ‘authorised persons’ who may issue the fines are the police, police community support officers and persons ‘designated by the Secretary of State’ for that purpose.
All that is required that the authorised person ‘reasonably believes’ an offence has been committed. There is no requirement that the offence has actually been committed. So, if someone’s explanation as to why they are exempt is not accepted at the time, it seems that the fine will stand regardless. In practice, it seems likely that carrying around a medical certificate of exemption may be about the only way to satisfy a sceptical or officious authorised person.
What if you don’t pay?
If the fine is paid within 28 days, no offence is committed and no criminal proceedings can be brought. If you do not pay and proceedings are brought, the Courts can make an order that you to pay the fines.
The regulations on face covering
For more information about what is a face covering, where it must be worn and what are the exemptions, see our earlier post Face covering requirements expanded from 8th August.
- The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) Regulations 2020
- The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings on Public Transport) (England) Regulations 2020
There is so far no announced change in Wales, where face coverings are only compulsory on public transport. Again, see our earlier post.
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