UK police hand out nearly 70K fines for breaching lockdown rules

People wearing face masks walk in St James's Park amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain

Nearly 70,000 fines have been handed out to those who breached coronavirus lockdown restrictions in Britain since the rules came into force last year, police data showed on Thursday.

According to the British National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), a total of 68,952 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) were issues by police between March 27 last year and February 14 this year.

Fines increased sharply following the introduction of Tier Four restrictions before Christmas last year and the latest national lockdown in England announced on January 4, which “reflected quicker and stronger enforcement by police.”

“We are still in a really dangerous stage of a pandemic which has killed more than 120,000 people,” NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said in a statement.

“Eleven months on and back into a national lockdown, the rules are really clear and so it is frustrating that we still have a small number of completely defiant and irresponsible people who have no regard for the safety of themselves or others,” Hewitt said.

Fines were handed out for reasons including illegal large gatherings, breaches of the face coverings regulations and failing to self-isolate after arriving from a country on the British government’s quarantine list, the Xinhua news agency reported.

England is currently under the third national lockdown since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country. Similar restriction measures are also in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

On Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his long-anticipated “roadmap” exiting the lockdown.

Schools in England will reopen from March 8 as first part of the four-step plan, which Johnson said was designed to be “cautious but irreversible”.

Johnson said he is “very optimistic” that all coronavirus restrictions in England will be removed by June 21.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines.

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