Revellers enjoy outside pubs on the eve of a second COVID-19 lockdown in England
Revellers enjoy outside pubs on the eve of a second COVID-19 lockdown in England

The UK government on Thursday reminded people about the tough fines in place over severe breaches as England entered its second stay-at-home lockdown in order to try and control the rapid spread of COVID-19 infections, expected to last at least until December 2.

UK Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said that while the police forces of the country will continue to follow the principle of policing by consent, they would respond to "egregious breaches" and hand out fines where necessary. Under the legal requirements in place, people have been told to stay at home unless leaving for work if they can't work from home or to shop for essentials or a form of daily exercise.

All non-essential shops, pubs, bars, restaurants and gyms have been ordered to close and households are also banned from mixing indoors or in private gardens, unless in a so-called "support bubble". There is a 200 pounds fine for each breach which doubles on every offence up to a maximum of 6,400 pounds and organisers of large gatherings face a 10,000 pounds fine.

"Where a more intense intervention is needed then the police will be involved and of course the fine structure is still in force," Buckland told the BBC.

"I think the message has to go out very clearly that this will only work if we all play our part," he said, adding that only a "tiny minority" of people are responsible for breaches which risk public health.

His message came as the Metropolitan Police, the UK's largest police force, issued a statement around its policing plans for the second lockdown.

"It is vitally important that we're all sensible, use common sense and stick to the rules. By working together, we can help prevent the spread of this deadly virus which has already claimed so many lives," said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, the Met Police lead on coronavirus.

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