With two new variants of Covid-19 leading to faster transmission rates, more areas of England have joined London and parts of the southeast in tier 4.
Sussex, Norfolk, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, including Portsmouth and Southampton but excluding the New Forest, and the remainder of Essex, moved into tier 4 at 00.01am on Boxing Day.
The move was announced on Wednesday by Matt Hancock in response to the rising number of coronavirus cases, which have seen hospital admissions reach the peak last seen in April.
As part of the new restrictions - first introduced to London and the southeast by Boris Johnson last weekend - millions of people have been placed under a “stay at home” order, with travel exceptions only allowed for reasons such as work, exercise, education and childcare.
The lockdown also bans people living in tier 4 areas from meeting with individuals from other households - except in cases of a support bubble.
“In general, you must not meet with another person socially or undertake any activities with another person,” the government’s website states. “You must not meet socially indoors with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble.”
To ensure that these restrictions are followed, the government has said that fines will be issued and that police will be tasked with enforcing the laws.
What are the fines for breaking the rules in tier 4 areas?
Under the new restrictions, individuals who attend a gathering can be issued fixed penalty notices, the government said.
For the first offence, you will be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200, while subsequent offences will see the fine doubled, up to a maximum of £6,400.
The potential fines for holding a large gathering are higher, with the government stating: “If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.”
Will there be fines for breaking the travel restrictions? How will restrictions be enforced?
In addition to restrictions barring travel in and out of tier 4 areas, the new rules also ban people living in tier 4 areas from leaving their homes for the holidays or staying overnight away from their home.
However, following Saturday’s announcement, there was a flurry of travel as people scrambled to leave the areas before lockdown went into effect.
On Sunday, government officials said that police would be enforcing these restrictions, with extra officers deployed to train stations.
“If you are in tier 4, the law means you must stay at home and you cannot stay overnight away from home. Across the rest of the country, you must stay local,” Grant Shapps, UK government minister with responsibility for travel, said.“Follow the guidance and please do not come to a station unless you are permitted to travel.
“Extra BTP [British Transport Police] officers are being deployed to ensure only those who need to take essential journeys can travel safely.”
According to the Metropolitan police, officers across London “will pay particular attention to those groups who have wilfully ignored the rules,” with priority on high footfall areas.
While it is not clear, what, if any, fines face individuals who break travel restrictions, health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed Sunday the matter will be in the hands of the police.
“It’s the police’s responsibility to police the law, and the law came into force in the early hours of this morning,” he said while speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, adding that police will stop people from getting on to trains.
In Scotland, where a travel ban with the rest of the UK is in place through the holidays, police presence will be doubled along the border of England.
However, these “highly visible patrols” will only be used to “deter anyone who might be considering breaching the coronavirus travel restrictions,” with lain Livingstone, the chief constable of Police Scotland, stating that it would not be “appropriate or proportionate for officers to establish checkpoints or roadblocks to simply enforce travel restrictions”.
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