Our police have been working hard to keep people safe, while enforcing the new measures the Prime Minister put in place just over a month ago
And the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has said he anticipates the figure will rise significantly in the coming days as police continue to employ a zero-tolerance approach. Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Gove said thousands of fines had been handed out by April 13, with many more issued since then. He said: “Our police have been working hard to keep people safe, while enforcing the new measures the Prime Minister put in place just over a month ago.
“They’ve issued 3,203 fines between March 27 and April 13 to those who have flouted social distancing rules and this number will of course have increased considerably since then, all dedicated to helping save lives and protecting the NHS.’
Police have the power to impose fixed penalty notices on anyone breaching stay-at-home guidance – and are particularly targeting group gatherings.
There have been numerous examples of police being required to break up parties and barbecues since the start of the lockdown last month.
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Fines are valued at £60 – but can be halved if they are paid within 14 days.
Anyone refusing to pay faces being taken to court and a possible criminal record.
When police were first granted the new powers, the Government thought wide-scale enforcement would not be necessary, believing most people would stick by the rules.
However, some forces have been arguing for a stiffening of the financial penalties to offer a greater deterrent, while increased traffic levels on roads in recent days have indicated patience with the restrictions may be wearing thin.
Mr Gove also stressed the importance of easing any lockdown restrictions in “as united a way as possible” across the UK.
Asked by Tory MP Steve Baker how he was working with the devolved administrations to ensure all four nations had the best possible advice in a timely manner in dealing with COVID-19, he said: “He is absolutely right to stress that working together across the UK is the right way to deal with this pandemic.
“The chief medical officers of all four parts of the UK meet regularly and scientific advice is shared across the UK and we want to ensure that as we ease any restrictions, that we do so in as united a way as possible.
“Because consistency of messaging is critical to ensuring that all of us can see some of our cherished liberties restored, while at the same time protecting precious lives.”
Speaking yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson – himself recovered from COVID-19 – acknowledged the lockdown was difficult, but stressed the rules would need to stay in place for the meantime to avoid a second wave of infection.
Stressing the UK was at “the moment of maximum risk”, he added: “If this virus were a physical assailant, an unexpected and invisible mugger, which I can tell you from personal experience it is, then this is the moment when we are beginning to wrestle it to the floor.”
Meanwhile, lockdown regulations may be easier to enforce as a result of a change in the weather, with sunshine turning to downpours.
Chief meteorologist at the Met Office, Andy Page, said: “After several weeks of high pressure bringing plenty of dry, warm and sunny weather across the UK, this week we’re seeing the return low pressure, allowing Atlantic weather systems to once again move across the UK, bringing unsettled, cooler weather.
“Today Tuesday will be cloudy and rather wet across much of England and Wales, however northern areas will enjoy another day of mostly dry weather and sunshine.
“Tomorrow we’ll see bands of rain moving more widely across the UK, bringing an end to the prolonged warm and dry spell for everyone.
“On Thursday and Friday we’ll see sunny spells and showers for most parts of the UK, with temperatures around average for the time of year.”
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