Just six fines handed out for not wearing masks on public transport in last two weeks

A traveller wears a mask on a busy tube in London, Monday, March 16, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
A traveller wears a mask on a busy tube in London. Face coverings were made mandatory on public transport on 15 June. (AP)

Just six people were fined by police for not wearing a mask on public transport in the two weeks to 20 July, new figures from forces in England and Wales revealed today.

Face coverings have been required while using public transport in England since 15 June. The regulations apply to all passengers on trains, buses, Tubes, coaches, trams, planes or ferries.

The data, published by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), also shows that only one fine has been issued to a person who breached coronavirus quarantine rules after coming back from abroad.

The news comes after holidaymakers in Spain and its islands were told they would have to self-isolate for 14 days when returning to the UK.

The quarantine data does not include fines issued by UK Border Force, which had issued three penalties by July 10, when quarantine rules for people returning to or visiting the UK from a list of countries were relaxed.

Tourists wearing face masks wait to cross a road in downtown Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, July 16, 2020. With Europe's summer vacation season kicking into high gear for millions weary of months of lockdown, scenes of drunken British and German tourists on Spain's Mallorca island ignoring social distancing rules and reports of American visitors flouting quarantine measures in Ireland are raising fears of a resurgence of infections in countries that have battled for months to flatten the COVID-19 curve. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Tourists wearing face masks wait to cross a road in Barcelona, Spain, last week. Restrictions were brought in overnight in the country after it was hit by a second wave of the coronavirus. (AP)
Tourists wait to board a tram in town of Sóller in the Balearic Island of Mallorca, Spain, Monday, July 27, 2020. Britain has put Spain back on its unsafe list and announced Saturday that travelers arriving in the U.K. from Spain must now quarantine for 14 days. (AP Photo/Joan Mateu)
Tourists wait to board a tram in town of Sóller in the Balearic Island of Majorca, Spain, Monday. (AP)

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said enforcement of the quarantine regulations, breaches of which can be punished with fines of between £100 and £1,000, is primarily a matter for Border Force and public health officials.

He said compliance with the quarantine rules had been good, but added “it’s really difficult to understand how people will respond” after Spain was removed from the UK’s list of safe destinations over a spike in the number of coronavirus cases.

“You would hope that people would come back and be responsible,” he said.

“I would hope they would be, but we will be in a position to carry out the role that we have in this, which is a secondary role to both the border force and Public Health England, as we are required to do so.

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“Of course, you know it’s not inconceivable that this could happen with other countries as we move forward, and I think the government has made clear about that as well, so we will monitor that and work through the process.”

The ticket for breaching quarantine rules, which was issued by Lincolnshire Police, was one of only eight fixed-penalty notices handed out in England in the two weeks to July 20, with none in Wales.

Six of the fines were handed to people who failed to wear face coverings on public transport. Passengers caught not complying with this regulation can be fined £100 and removed from services.

A total of 32 fines have been made under the regulation up to 19 July.

Passengers exit from flight-side, arriving at Gatwick Airport, that services many European flights, south of London, early Sunday July 26, 2020. The British government has announced that people travelling from Spain will have to quarantine for 14-days because of a spike in confirmed cases of Covid-19 in some areas of Spain.  Fears of a coronavirus second wave saw the European country struck off the UK's safe list.  (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)
People arriving in the UK from Spain must self-isolate for 14 days or face a fine of between £100 and £1,000. (AP)

The other fine in the latest two-week period was issued by Northamptonshire Police for a breach of rules around gatherings.

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Figures are not yet available for breaches of regulations introduced on Friday making it compulsory for most people to wear face coverings in shops.

But Hewitt said: “I certainly, in my trawl around how the weekend has gone, have heard of no instances around particular issues in shops. I’m not aware of any fines having been issued.”

The NPCC said the figures do not include fines issued during the local Leicester lockdown.

In total, 16,029 fixed-penalty notices were issued by forces between 27 March and 20 July in England. 2,640 were issued by forces in Wales for the same period.

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