New on-the-spot fines as UK further eases COVID-19 lockdown
Fines for repeatedly not wearing face coverings in mandated areas such as public transport and shops will also be significantly increased, in many cases doubled, in the coming weeks as a number of remaining aspects of England’s culture, sport, leisure and business sectors will be permitted to reopen. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new phase of reopening will allow more people to return to work and the public to get back to more of the things they have missed.PTI | London | Updated: 14-08-2020 16:25 IST | Created: 14-08-2020 16:17 IST
New on-the-spot fines for hosting or facilitating illegal gatherings and parties of more than 30 people are set to come in as the UK government announced a new phase of easing of the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions from Saturday. Fines for repeatedly not wearing face coverings in mandated areas such as public transport and shops will also be significantly increased, in many cases doubled, in the coming weeks as a number of remaining aspects of England's culture, sport, leisure and business sectors will be permitted to reopen.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new phase of reopening will allow more people to return to work and the public to get back to more of the things they have missed. "However, as I have always said, we will not hesitate to put on the brakes if required, or to continue to implement local measures to help to control the spread of the virus," said Johnson.
"Most people in this country are following the rules and doing their bit to control the virus, but we must remain focused and we cannot be complacent. That is why we are strengthening the enforcement powers available to use against those who repeatedly flout the rules," he said. Fines will double to a maximum of 3,200 pounds for those who repeatedly flout face covering rules and new fines, yet to be set, will be introduced for people "hosting raves or other unlawful gatherings" of more than 30 people.
"Coronavirus remains a real and present threat to all of us and the majority of the British public are doing the right thing. I will not stand by and see these sacrifices undermined by a small minority of senseless individuals," said UK Home Secretary Priti Patel. "These measures send a clear message – if you don't cooperate with the police and if you put our health at risk, action will follow," she said, indicating that more details of the new enforcement measures to be imposed will be unveiled in the coming days and weeks.
Under the latest phase of reopenings for England, bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos will reopen for the first time since March as well as indoor play and soft play centres which comply with new COVID-19 Secure guidelines. Beauty salons, tattoo studios, spas and barbers will be able to offer all close-contact services and treatments and wedding receptions for up to 30 people will also be allowed to resume. "From Saturday, salons, spas and other close contact services across England will once again be able to offer all services in a way that is safe for workers and clients," said UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma, describing it as a "much-needed boost" for small, independent businesses.
Indoor performances with socially distanced audiences will also recommence as will some pilots of more sporting events. This will commence with the final of the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre over the weekend, with a full pilot programme to follow. "The nation's hard work to keep the virus under control means we can now make further careful progress on recovery with allowing audiences back for indoor performances, fans back at sports events and the reopening of more COVID-19 secure leisure businesses," said UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.
Two weeks ago, Boris Johnson said he is applying the brakes on further lockdown easing as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) had expressed concerns about a slight increase in the number of people in England testing positive. However, Downing Street said this week that the situation now appears to have "levelled off". The official death toll from coronavirus in the UK, under a new agreed methodology of recording data, stands at over 41,000 and the government's strategy is to manage the infections through localised lockdowns instead of having to resort to a second nation-wide lockdown.