Coronavirus: £10,000 fines come into force for those who fail to self-isolate

28 September 2020, 08:10 | Updated: 28 September 2020, 10:46

Tens of thousands of people are being asked to self-isolate
Tens of thousands of people are being asked to self-isolate. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Tough new fines come into force today as the Government furthers its crackdown on people who repeatedly breach coronavirus rules.

From midnight on Monday, people across England have been legally required to self-isolate if they test positive for coronavirus or are contacted by the Test and Trace service - or face fines of up to £10,000.

Fines for first-time offenders start at £1,000 and increase each time the rules are broken - up to a maximum of £10,000 for the most serious breaches.

People who have received a positive test must isolate for 10 days after displaying symptoms, or their test date if they do not have symptoms, while members of their household must isolate for 14 days.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said that police resources will be used to check compliance in the highest incidence areas and in high-risk groups based on "local intelligence".

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A new £500 support payment has also launched alongside the tough new measures for people on low incomes who have lost wages as a result.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government will "not hesitate" to introduce further measures if case numbers continue to rise - but has faced a backlash from a growing number of Conservative MPs who believe the new restrictions are going too far.

He added: "Anyone can catch coronavirus and anyone can spread it.

"We all have a crucial part to play in keeping the number of new infections down and protecting our loved ones.

"As cases rise it is imperative we take action, and we are introducing a legal duty to self-isolate when told to do so, with fines for breaches and a new £500 support payment for those on lower incomes who can't work from home while they are self-isolating.

"These simple steps can make a huge difference to reduce the spread of the virus, but we will not hesitate to put in place further measures if cases continue to rise."

The new measure come into force amid a sharp rise in the number of Covid-19 cases, followed by increasing hospital admissions and deaths in the past week.

Local authorities will be working to set up test and trace support payment schemes, and the DHSC said it expected these to be in place by 12 October.

If eligible, people told to self-isolate from Monday will receive backdated payments once the scheme is set up in their local authority, the department added.

Just under four million people who are in receipt of benefits in England will be eligible for this payment, it said.

The DHSC said a number of other measures will be taken to ensure people comply with the rules including NHS Test and Trace call handlers increasing contact with people self-isolating.

The fines have been introduced after dozens of university campuses across the UK reported Covid-19 cases - with major outbreaks in cities such as Glasgow and Manchester.

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Thousands of students are being asked to self-isolate for two weeks - regardless of symptoms - with little notice, which has raised questions over the fairness of the situation.

It follows the announcement that over 10 million people have downloaded the new NHS Covid-19 app which launched last week.

Soon after launching, it faced a significant issue which prevented thousands of users from logging a positive test result, but was quickly resolved by the Department.

It is understood, however, that people who book a test outside the app still cannot log negative results.

The Health Secretary said on social media it was an "absolutely fantastic" response so far, and urged more people to download it.