Police in London are now stopping vehicles to quiz drivers about their destinations as lockdown conditions continue throughout the region. Officials have warned that they will be imposing £200 fines to anyone not wearing a mask when they should be, and anyone leaving their house for non-essential reasons.
Scotland Yard also announced that anyone who is out will need “reasonable excuses” to be in public. People can only leave their homes for essential trips, which include shopping for food or medicine.
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Police will also have the authority to issue additional fines and break up crowds if any decide to gather.
Residents in Maidenhead, Berks, were outraged to discover that their trips for shopping and exercise were challenged by uniformed police, who distributed leaflets and sometimes fines if citizens become belligerent.
Police officers and PCSOs have been instructed to immediately fine “anyone committing obvious, wilful and serious breaches” without warning.
Fixed penalty notices of £200 will be issued for a first offence, with this doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400 according to The Sun.
On Wednesday morning, police stopped cars outside a Tesco in Maidenhead, Berks, and handed them leaflets asking: “Why are you here today?”
Some protesters in London have already been arrested. Protesters had gathered in the city for a variety of different reasons, including anti-lockdown protests and activists gathering in support of Julian Assange, both were arrested for violating lockdown rules.
West Midlands Police have also now asked for permission to force entry into homes to break up parties. Police warn that anyone involved in hosting an illegal gathering of more than 30 people risks a police-issued fine of £10,000.
“If people continue to break the rules, putting themselves, their families and their communities at greater risk, our officers are ready to act robustly, ” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said.
Twist said that a small number of people continue to flout the rules so additional measures are needed.
“After ten months of this pandemic the number of people who are genuinely not aware of the restrictions and the reasons they are in place is vanishingly small. We know the overwhelming majority of Londoners will do the right thing by staying at home, wearing masks and not gathering, but a small minority continue to ignore rules put in place to protect the NHS and save lives,” Twist said.
Hundreds of people have already been arrested for breaking lockdown rules since the pandemic began, although, most of these arrests took place at protests or parties and other mass gatherings.
Scientists fear that there is a new strain of Covid spreading through the UK and authorities are hoping to slow down, or entirely stop the spread of the new strain. It is not clear how much of a threat the mutated strain is when compared with the original, but health officials are taking steps to see that it doesn’t get any worse.