Brits who continue to flout coronavirus lockdown rules will be arrested for breaking the law, Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced.
It comes after Boris Johnson ordered all non-essential shops and businesses to close and told Brits to stay home as the NHS battles the Covid-19 outbreak.
As of 9am on Thursday 9,529 people have tested positive for the virus in the UK with 463 patients having died.
The new lockdown enforcement powers also allow police officers to order people to go home, leave or disperse an area and ensure parents are taking steps to stop their children breaking the law.
Those who refuse to comply could be given a fixed penalty notice of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days.
Second-time offenders could be fined £120, which doubles on each further repeat offence.
Those who do not pay the penalty can be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.
Announcing the new enforcement powers, Ms Patel said: “The Prime Minister has been clear on what we need to do: stay at home to protect our NHS and save lives.
“All our frontline services really are the best of us and are doing an incredible job to stop this terrible virus from spreading.
“That’s why I’m giving the police these new enforcement powers, to protect the public and keep people safe.”
She ealier shared a tweet from the UK Crown Prosecution service, saying that reports of people deliberately coughing on emergency workers are "appalling".
Reports of people deliberately coughing on our hardworking emergency workers are appalling. The @CPSuk have clearly said that this is a crime and will not hesitate to prosecute anyone who threatens the vital work of our emergency workers. https://t.co/k0wMG3OVB8— Priti Patel #StayHomeSaveLives (@patel4witham)March 26, 2020
Mr Patel added: "The @CPSuk have clearly said that this is a crime and will not hesitate to prosecute anyone who threatens the vital work of our emergency workers. "
It also comes as police forces across the country continue to crack down on those flouting the rules
The Derbyshire Police said on Thursday that people continue to drive to the Peak District for walks despite the force’s warnings to stay at home.
In a series of tweets, which included drone footage of people enjoying walks, the force said: “Despite posts yesterday highlighting issues of people still visiting the #PeakDistrict despite government guidance, the message is still not getting through.
Some number plates were coming back to keepers in #Sheffield, so we know that people are travelling to visit these areas. Daily exercise should be taken locally to your home. Under government guidance all travel is limited to essential travel only.— Derbyshire Police (@DerbysPolice)March 26, 2020
“Cars were parked in both the car park and on the hill up to it. A bag of stones that was at the entrance as a roadblock had been pulled to the side to allow cars to enter. Plenty of people were walking, many of which had parked up in cars before heading out for their walk.
“Some number plates were coming back to keepers in #Sheffield, so we know that people are travelling to visit these areas. Daily exercise should be taken locally to your home. Under government guidance, all travel is limited to essential travel only.”