Tougher fines for breach of COVID-19 quarantine come into force across England

London: People across England will be required by law from Monday to self-isolate if they test positive for the coronavirus or face a 1,000-pound fine, which increases to 10,000 pounds for repeat offenders.

The government said that as the infection is now spreading rapidly again across the country, the tougher measures are aimed at ensuring compliance and reducing the spread of COVID-19.

“These new measures are about saving lives. Everyone must take personal responsibility and self-isolate if they test positive or if told to do so by NHS Test and Trace,” said UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.

“For those who fail to do so, the police will enforce the law. These new fines are a clear sign that we will not allow those who break the rules to reverse the hard-won progress made by the law-abiding majority,” she said.

Fines for a breach of self-isolation legal requirements start at 1,000 pounds, in line with the existing penalty for breaking quarantine after international travel.

This could increase to up to 10,000 pounds for repeat offences and the most serious breaches, including for those preventing others from self-isolating.

The government said that employers who force or allow staff to come to work when they should be self-isolating will also be liable for fines of up to 10,000 pounds, as a clear message that this will not be tolerated.

Those on lower incomes who cannot work from home and can show that they have lost income as a result of the compulsory quarantine, lasting around 14 days, will also be eligible for a new 500 pounds Test and Trace Support Payment.

The rules come in as infections continue to rise across the UK but only 18 per cent of people with symptoms of the deadly virus going into isolation, according to a study commissioned by the UK government.

“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 pounds support payment for those on lower incomes who can’t work from home while they are self-isolating,” said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

“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,” he said.

Local authorities will set up the Test and Trace Support Payment schemes by October 12 but those told to self-isolate from Monday will receive backdated payments if they are eligible.

“Councils across the country are working at pace to set up new self-isolation support payment schemes and ensure people in their communities have the information and advice they need to stay safe and reduce the spread of the virus,” said Robert Jenrick, the minister for Communities and Local Government.

“Since the start of the pandemic councils have played a crucial role in supporting businesses and their communities, and I want to thank them for their hard work as they roll out this new support for those who need to self-isolate,” he said.

Under the rules already in place and now legally enforceable, if someone or another member of their household has symptoms of coronavirus, they should quarantine, or self-isolate, immediately.

If someone receives a positive test result, they are required to self-isolate for the period ending 10 days after displaying symptoms or after the date of the test, if they did not have symptoms.

Other members of their household must self-isolate for the period ending 14 days after symptom onset, or after the date of the initial person’s positive test.

If someone is instructed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, because they have had close contact with someone outside their household who has tested positive, they are also legally required to self-isolate for the period notified by NHS Test and Trace.

Both household and non-household contacts must self-isolate for the full period, regardless of whether they have symptoms and, if they develop symptoms and take a test, regardless of whether any test taken gives a negative result.

Some of the steps being taken to enforce the new laws include a team of NHS Test and Trace call handlers increasing contact with those self-isolating and the use of police resources to check compliance in highest incidence areas and in high-risk groups, based on local intelligence.

The government warned that high-profile and “egregious” cases of non-compliance will be investigated and prosecuted, as people are being encouraged to report quarantine breaches as third parties.

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