Self-isolating people face instant £4,000 fines if they act recklessly

Sarah Knapton
·3-min read
Police officers on patrol ahead of closing time in Soho, London, after pubs and restaurants were subject to a 10pm curfew -  Yui Mok/PA
Police officers on patrol ahead of closing time in Soho, London, after pubs and restaurants were subject to a 10pm curfew - Yui Mok/PA
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter

People self-isolating with coronavirus who behave “recklessly” face instant fines of £4,000, under new Government rules.

Anyone infected with coronavirus who “recklessly” leaves self-isolation in a way that puts someone else in danger will be committing a crime, with the fine rising to £10,000 for a second offence.

It is one of at least seven new offences introduced by the Government as part of its tighter crackdown to halt a second wave of the disease.

Others include bans on dancing, loud music and singing in pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes as well as maliciously reporting people and failing to ensure your children stay in self-isolation - all of which carry fines of £1,000.

Are Covid-19 cases rising or falling in your area? All local authorities with lookup. Updates automatically
Are Covid-19 cases rising or falling in your area? All local authorities with lookup. Updates automatically

Ministers have yet to specify precisely what will amount to recklessness but No 10 indicated that nipping to the supermarket after being instructed to self-isolate could merit a £4,000 fine.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: "We know that the vast majority of people want to do the right thing. What we're setting out is that those who take risks with the health of their friends, families and communities should expect this to be taken seriously."

The moves come amid growing concern by Tory backbenchers at the Government acting “by decree” without being held accountable by MPs and legal experts.

UCL’s Constitution Unit noted the new powers enacted fines of up to £10,000 on people leaving self-isolation through 12 pages of dense legalistic text published seven hours before coming into effect, without any Parliamentary scrutiny.

Watch: What are the fines for breaching self-isolation? Find out here

The rules require pubs, bars, restaurants and members’ clubs to take “all reasonable measures” to stop singing on the premises by groups of more than six and dancing - or face fines of at least £1,000, rising to £10,000 for a fourth offence.

They are also barred from playing music which exceeds 85 decibels to prevent people shouting at each other or getting too close to speak, although live performances are not affected. Wedding ceremonies and receptions are also exempt from the rule.

Other offences added into law include a £1,000 fine for falsely telling test and trace officials that you came into contact with a neighbour, colleague or friend after testing positive for coronavirus - so forcing them into 14 days isolation.

Under the rule, people would be guilty of a criminal offence if they “knowingly falsely state” to a test and trace or council officer that “someone is a close contact of a person who has tested positive for coronavirus.” A second offence gets a £2,000 fine, £4,000 for a third and £10,000 for a fourth.

Would you report your neighbour for breaking self-isolation rules
Would you report your neighbour for breaking self-isolation rules

Deliberately not naming your family to test and trace officials when you test positive, so requiring them to self-isolate, also becomes an offence, with a fine of £1,000, rising to £10,000 on the fourth occasion.

Failing to tell your boss that you have to self-isolate “as soon as reasonably practicable” will be an offence, punishable by a £50 fine, while any employer who forces a self-isolating member of staff to come to work will face a fine of £1,000.

Asked why the Government had not previously disclosed the new offences contained in regulations published overnight, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: "The regulations have obviously been published in full and in terms of Parliamentary scrutiny...the regulations will lapse if they are not supported by MPs."

Pressed on whether it was sensible to introduce new restrictions without communicating them first, he added: "We set out the reasons for the introduction of financial penalties for self-isolating a week ago and we have also backed that with payments of £500 for those on lower incomes who cannot work from home and have lost income as a result."

Watch: UK coronavirus cases rising - why are deaths still low?