How Will The UK’s New Lockdown Measures Be Enforced?

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With daily updates and new guidelines coming out from both the UK government and health officials, you’d be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed when it comes to coronavirus advice. However, on March 23, Boris Johnson addressed the nation and announced the most stringent policies yet: a national lockdown, aimed at protecting people from the coronavirus pandemic. By March 26, police were granted the power to arrest and fine individuals, if they are breaking the rules. But how will the UK’s new lockdown measures be enforced?

During the national TV address of March 23, the PM outlined the few instances in which people are allowed to leave their home. They are: shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible; to exercise once a day, alone or with members of your household; to fulfil any medical need, provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and travelling to and from work, but only where absolutely necessary. The measures will last for three weeks before being reviewed.

To ensure compliance, the government immediately closed down all shops selling non-essential goods. Libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms, and places of worship were also shut down. And "we will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public - excluding people you live with," said Johnson. "And we'll stop all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals."

How much can you be fined for breaking coronavirus lockdown measures?

Any adult who commits an offence under the new regulations will be handed a £60 fine, according the The Independent. If paid within two weeks, that fine will be reduced to £30. Second-time offenders will be issued an £120 fixed penalty, doubling on each further repeat offence.

Under the new rules, police can also "ensure parents are doing all they can to stop their children breaking the rules." The new police powers came into effect on March 26, and will last six months, with reviews taking place every three weeks, according to the BBC.

Can you be arrested for breaking coronavirus lockdown rules?

Yes. Anyone who refuses to comply and abide by the restrictions can be arrested.

Separately, anyone who coughs or spits on key workers (or threatens to do so) will face serious criminal charges. Two men in England have already been convicted; one of them has been jailed. The move comes after reports of essential workers being coughed at by people claiming to have the virus.

Max Hill QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales, said: "Emergency workers are more essential than ever as society comes together to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. Let me be very clear: this is a crime and needs to stop. The Crown Prosecution Service stands behind emergency and essential workers and will not hesitate to prosecute anybody who threatens them as they go about their vital duties."

What will the police do during lockdown?

Police forces across the country have set up checkpoints, per The Independent, to stop vehicles and check with drivers if their journey is absolutely essential.

In addition to the new powers, the government has unveiled a support package to boost police resources. Around 1,500 additional police officers have already joined forces across England and Wales since September 2019. Existing Civil Servants volunteering as Special Constables are being encouraged to assist in the national effort. And those officers nearing retirement, as well as the recently retired, are being encouraged to return or remain in active duty.

Speaking about the new police powers, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "The Prime Minister has been clear on what we need to do: stay at home to protect our NHS and save lives. All our frontline services really are the best of us and are doing an incredible job to stop this terrible virus from spreading. That’s why I’m giving the police these new enforcement powers, to protect the public and keep people safe."

If you or someone you’ve been in close contact with appears to have shown or be showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and coughing, visit the NHS website in the UK to find out the next steps you should take or visit the CDC website in the U.S. for up-to-date information and resources. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here, and UK-specific updates on coronavirus here.

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