800 Covid law fines handed out on week of Downing Street's BYOB bash

More than EIGHT HUNDRED fines for breaking Covid laws were handed out by police in England and Wales in the week of Downing Street’s BYOB bash during first lockdown

  • 807 fixed penalty notices for Covid rule breaches were issued between May 15 and May 21 last year
  • This time period includes the alleged Downing Street garden party on May 20
  • Official figures show a total of 118,963 fines were processed between March 27 and December 16 last year

More than 800 fines for breaking Covid laws were handed out by police in England and Wales during the week of the Downing Street garden party in England’s first lockdown.

Scotland Yard has said it is in contact with the Cabinet Office about the May 20, 2020, allegations at Number 10.

There were 807 fixed penalty notices issued for breaches of Covid rules in England and Wales in the week between May 15 and May 21, 2020, the latest data from the National Police Chiefs’ Council shows.

According to the figures, a total of 118,963 fines were processed by police between March 27, 2020, and December 16, 2021.

More than 800 fines for breaking Covid laws were handed out by police in England and Wales during the week of the Downing Street garden party in England’s first lockdown (file image from March 28, 2020)

Coronavirus rules had changed a week before the party as the Government warned it was considering tougher enforcement measures for anyone flouting the rules.

Lockdown fines rose to £100 in England on May 13, 2020, and could be issued to anyone believed to be breaching restrictions on movement amid the coronavirus outbreak.

While anyone found breaking the law would have had their first fine lowered to £50 if paid within 14 days, the penalty doubled for each repeat offence, up to a maximum of £3,200.

Existing legislation known as the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 was updated to reflect the changes.

At the same time the Government published a 50-page document setting out its Covid-19 recovery strategy for England which said it was ‘examining more stringent enforcement measures for non-compliance’.

The document said the higher fines ‘reflect the increased risk to others of breaking the rules as people are returning to work and school’.

Laws in force at the time still required people to have a reasonable excuse to leave their home, such as to buy food and medical supplies, and limited other exceptions such as attending a funeral, court, or legal proceedings and to ‘escape a risk of harm’.

There were 807 fixed penalty notices issued for breaches of Covid rules in England and Wales in the week between May 15 and May 21, 2020, the latest data from the National Police Chiefs’ Council shows (file image from April 10, 2020)

Changes in the law also allowed people to collect orders from shops and other businesses which had been permitted to stay open or go to waste and recycling centres.

According to the legislation, people could only meet one other person from outside their own household at a time in a public space or for exercise.

Government ministers urged people not to visit relatives and friends in their own homes or gardens.

Guidance issued at the time said people would be able to spend time outdoors, other than just for exercise, as long as they were not meeting more than one person from outside their household, while observing social distancing measures by keeping two metres apart.

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