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Various restrictions and requirements have been placed on individuals and businesses to help slow the spread of coronavirus in England and Wales:

  • Lockdown restrictions: Rules have been imposed which require people to “stay home” or “stay local”. Rules have prevented different types of gatherings. Some businesses have been required to close or operate under restrictions.
  • Face covering requirements: Most people are required to wear a face covering on public transport, in shops and businesses and in other public spaces.
  • International quarantine requirements: People arriving in England/ Wales from specific countries are required to quarantine for fourteen days on arrival.
  • Self-isolation requirements: People who have tested positive for coronavirus (or come into close contact with someone who has) are required to self-isolate.

Responsibility for enforcing coronavirus restrictions is shared between a number of public agencies. Some private individuals also have responsibilities.

Organisations and individuals enforcing coronavirus restrictions

Lockdown restrictions

Police

Local authorities

Face coverings

Transport operators

Business owners

Police

International travel quarantine

Border force

Public Health England’s Isolation Assurance Service

Police

Self-isolation

NHS Test and Trace

Police

Employers

Police approach to coronavirus restrictions

The police have adopted a “four-phase approach” to policing coronavirus restrictions in which enforcement is “the last resort”:

  • Engage: officers speak to people and try to establish their “awareness and understanding of the situation”.
  • Explain: officers “try to education people” about the coronavirus risks.
  • Encourage: officers encourage people to “act reasonably”.
  • Enforce: officers may “as a last resort, remove a person to the place where they live, using reasonable force only if it is a necessary and proportionate means of ensuring compliance”.

Police powers

The police (and others if designated) have a range of new powers they can use to enforce coronavirus restriction regulations:

  • They can issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) to those they suspect are breaking or have broken coronavirus rules. Those issued with an FPN under coronavirus regulations can pay a fine to avoid criminal proceedings.
  • They can also use “reasonable force if necessary” to enforce the regulations. This means they can use force to take people who break the rules back to their homes.
  • They can make an arrest (if necessary) and formally charge suspects with an offence.

Enforcement statistics

18,812 FPNs were issued in England and Wales under lockdown regulations between 27 March and the 24 September.

In England most FPNs were issued during the first seven weeks of lockdown, a period in which the strictest lockdown rules were in force. During the first seven weeks 14,738 FPNs were issued, a figure that equates to roughly 25 for every 100,000 people.

The number of FPNs issued for other coronavirus restrictions/ requirements has been small:

  • 89 FPNs have been issued under face coverings regulations.
  • 33 FPNs have been issued under international quarantine regulations.
  • Data is not yet available for self-isolation regulations.

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