The new officer guidance states the fines can be issued if people refuse to follow the measures when asked by officers. The advice, reported this weekend by the Sunday Telegraph, states that “initial police response should be to encourage with voluntary compliance,” followed by the potential fines.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has now praised the rules, citing “the tragic number” of new coronavirus cases and deaths that occurred over the past week.
She said: “Enforcing these rules saves lives. It is as simple as that.
“Officers will continue to engage with the public across the country and will not hesitate to take action when necessary.”
The Tory MP also said the “vast majority” of people have been following Boris Johnson’s new national lockdown, which was legally imposed earlier this week.
However, she added “the tragic number of new cases and deaths this week shows there is still a need for strong enforcement where people are clearly breaking these rules to ensure we safeguard our country’s recovery from this deadly virus.”
The on-the-sport fines of £200 are cut in half if they are paid within 14 days, it is understood.
READ: Coronavirus crisis: SAGE official blasts ‘lax’ lockdown demanding ‘stricter’ measures
Under England’s new Covid lockdown rules, people can leave their homes for exercise but “should not travel outside your local area,” according to the Government.
Other reasons deemed acceptable for leaving one’s home include shopping for “basic necessities”, going to work or school if eligible, meeting with a support bubble, or seeking medical assistance or escaping harm or abuse.
The guidance adds: “’Stay local’ means stay in the village, town, or part of the city where you live.”
Some scientists are warning the rules should be stricter still if it is to have a similar effect as the March lockdown did.
Professor Susan Michie, a professor of health psychology from University College London and a member of Sage, told BBC Radio 4: “When you look at the data, it shows that almost 90% of people are overwhelmingly adhering to the rules – despite the fact that we’re also seeing more people out and about.”
It comes after the UK reported 59,937 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, with 1,035 new deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
It brings the number of new cases within the past seven days to 417,620 – a rise of 22.1 percent from the seven days prior.
Meanwhile the most recent vaccination data shows around 1.3 million people in the UK have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has claimed the rollout will be accelerated within days so that “hundreds of thousands” of the jabs will be given every day by January 15.