Coronavirus: Fines for breaking stay-at-home law in Wales announced

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People who breach stringent new rules on life brought in to tackle the coronavirus outbreak risk a £60 fine.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has signed into law new regulations setting out how the measures will be enforced.

Fines rise to £120 for second and subsequent offences – although people ignoring the new law could risk arrest if they do not comply.

But while fines in England could reach as high as £960, that will not happen in Wales.

A fixed penalty notice for a first offence falls to £30 if paid within 14 days.

Businesses still allowed to open will also be required to maintain a two metre distance between people – a requirement absent from the English version of the law.

Last week the UK’s four governments announced stringent curbs on life, in a bid to contain coronavirus.

It was announced that people can only leave home for:

  • shopping for groceries or essentials
  • any medical need
  • travelling to and from work, if it is absolutely necessary and you cannot work from home
  • one form of exercise per day

The law says that no one can leave their house without a “reasonable excuse”, and that people cannot gather in groups of more than two in a public space, except for limited circumstances.

If people do not comply they can be directed to return home, or removed from where they are and returned home.

The Welsh and English versions of the law were published on the same day and many aspects are similar.

But while the regulations enforcing the exercise measures in England do not stipulate the once-a-day restriction, the Welsh version does.

The Welsh rules state that firms that are allowed to open, such as supermarkets and off-licences, should take “all reasonable measures to ensure that a distance of two metres is maintained between any person on the business premises”.

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The regulations do not include a clause seen in the English version, that means the fixed penalty notices there double for the third and subsequent notice received by an individual, to a maximum of £960.

Fines can be issued by a police constable; a police community support officer; or a person designated by the Welsh Government, a council, a national parks authority or Natural Resources Wales.

Someone who refuses to comply will be acting unlawfully, and the police may arrest them.

Individuals who do not pay the notice could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.

What are you allowed to go outside for?

The law lists the reasonable excuses that people can have to leave their homes.

It includes:

  • obtaining food, medical supplies, and supplies for the essential upkeep of a household
  • exercise, no more than once a day, either alone or with other household members
  • seek medical assistance
  • provide care or assistance
  • donate blood
  • travel to work or provide voluntary services
  • meet a legal obligation
  • access “critical public services”
  • move house “where necessary”
  • avoid injury or illness

Individuals can attend a funeral of a member of their household; of a close family member; or of a friend, if no member of the deceased’s household or close family is attending.

The law also allows councils and national parks to close public paths, and enforces the closure of holiday and camping sites.

Ministers are required to review the restrictions every 21 days. They expire after six months.

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