Our Head of Crime & Regulatory, Rachel Fletcher, takes us through what may happen if you are accused of a criminal offence by breaking the restrictions of The Coronavirus Act 2020.
*This information is correct at the time of posting – 10 September 2020*
The latest guidance from the government brings changes to Coronavirus legislation.
As of Monday, 14th September 2020, you must not meet with people from other households socially in groups of more than six. Any groups found to be breaking this ‘rule of 6’ will be subject to a fine.
What does the new Coronavirus law say?
Groups of more than six can not meet if from different households. This applies indoors and outdoors, including in people’s homes and gardens.
People found socialising in groups of 7 or more will be subject to a fine of £100. This will double on each offence, up to £3,200.
We must still remember to maintain a 1m distance from people outside of our household or support bubble, and wear face coverings where necessary.
Why has it changed?
It became apparent that there was confusion over the basic rules for helping to stop the spread of the virus. People have flouted the rules, and with the economy opening back up there is more scope for transmission.
In order to continue taking this seriously, Coronavirus legislation has changed. People found socialising in groups of 7 or more will be subject to a fine, which can increase with repeated offences.
Some people are confused as the initial guidance was to socialise in groups no bigger than six, but the crackdown is hoped to help lower the infection rate, which has increased significantly in the last few weeks.
Exemptions to the new Coronavirus legislation
COVID-19 Secure venues, such as places of worship, restaurants and hospitality venues, can remain open. They can still have larger numbers of visitors, but each group must not exceed six people. Groups will not be allowed to mix.
Individual households with more than six members, or support bubbles of more than six, will still be able to gather together.
Workplaces and education settings are carrying on as usual, unless specified by the managers or owners. Organised team sports, weddings and funerals with up to 30 people can still go ahead.
Could I get a criminal record?
Now that this is enforceable by law, you will be fined if you breach it. Paying the fine will avoid any potential criminal liability.
A lot of power has now been handed to the police in enforcing this. Because the guidance is enforceable by law, they have a greater ability to issue fines. While we have heard reports of very few fines being issued for not wearing face coverings on public transport, and the like, we think this may be taken more seriously as more people are out and about.
If you are fined, you may wish to speak with a solicitor to discuss your defence.
Contact Rachel Fletcher if you require guidance on an offence relating to the coronavirus legislation.
A word from us
Everybody is struggling and the more we stay within the regulations laid out by the Government, the sooner, we hope, we can get back to a sense of normality. Many industries are under strain at the moment, and the less unnecessary strain we can put on the Magistrates Courts, the better.
Please be mindful that we are still living through a global pandemic. We each play a part in overcoming the spread of this disease, so please, pay attention to government guidance and use common sense.
If you require any other legal support in light of Coronavirus, head over to our legal support hub for information and contact details.