Police enforcement of coronavirus laws in England and Wales is at the lowest level since the lockdown started, figures show.
Only a handful of fines have been handed out since the start of July, compared to almost 2,500 a week before restrictions were relaxed.
More than 15,500 fines were issued in England before the law changed to allow groups of six to meet on 1 June, and fewer than 500 since.
No penalties have yet been issued for breaches of the two-week quarantine for new arrivals in England and only 10 fines have been given out for breaking the law making face masks mandatory on public transport.
Figures released by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) showed that fines for breaking lockdown conditions have dropped sharply as restrictions have eased.
Only two were given out under the Health Protection Regulations between 2 and 6 July.
“From mid-May onwards there has been a considerable reduction in enforcement activity as the restrictions have been progressively eased, particularly in England,” a report said.
“While figures for the most recent weeks are subject to revision, the levels of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) now being issued are at the lowest levels since the restrictions started, with 100 or less per week issued in each of the last three full weeks.”
The Health Protection Regulations initially banned any gathering and leaving home “without reasonable excuse”, but have been updated several times to allow exercise with a friend, then gatherings of up to six and now 30 in England.
More than 18,600 fines have been given out since the 27 March - 16,000 in England and 2,600 in Wales - with the vast majority for breaking restrictions on movement.
More than 4,400 fines were issued for gatherings of more than two people in the early part of the lockdown, but only 35 for groups of more than six.
The NPCC said: “There was a general upward trend in the first period of the restrictions which continued through early April and peaked in the week ending 16 April, which included the Easter bank holiday.”
The laws in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have diverged, and tighter restrictions are currently in place for Leicester as part of the UK’s first “local lockdown”.
Additional regulations were brought in to enforce a two-week quarantine for international travellers arriving in England, and the wearing of face masks on public transport.
As rules have relaxed, crime levels have increased following sharp drops at the start of the lockdown, and proactive police patrols of public spaces have decreased as a result.
But the NPCC said fine numbers should not be seen as either a measure of police activity or public compliance, because “fines are issued as a last resort after initial attempts to engage with the public to explain and encourage compliance with the new regulations have not been successful”.
It said officers were focusing on “blatant breaches of the rules” such as large gatherings, parties and unlicenced music events that have seen clashes in London.
The NPCC has not yet published statistical analysis of racial disproportionality in the fines, and campaigners and MPs have called for a wholesale review of those given out.
The ethnicity of recipients was not stated for 16 of fines, but for those that were 80 per cent were white, 12 per cent Asian and Chinese, 4 per cent black, 2 per cent mixed-race and 1 per cent other.
But 86 per cent of the population of England and Wales are white, 7.5 per cent Asian and 3.3 per cent black, meaning that black and Asian people are being fined more frequently than white people.
There have also been warnings of a “postcode lottery” between different areas. While some regional forces have handed out more than 1,000 penalties, the figure in others is below 100.
There is no route to appeal coronavirus fines other than refusing to pay and risking prosecution, prompting concerns that people would be too afraid to challenge them.
Campaign group Big Brother Watch said it was time for the Health Protection Regulations to be “repealed in full”.
“One thing is consistent, that police are still disproportionately issuing fines to Asian and black people,” director Silkie Carlo said.
“This is grossly unjust. The police have enforced these restrictions unlawfully and unfairly time and time again. Their only opportunity to remedy this is to instigate a review of these thousands of fines.”
Martin Hewitt, chair of the NPCC, said officers were “adapting to changes [in the law] at the same pace as the public”.
“We all collectively understand that the sooner we see the transmission of the virus diminish, the less need for enforcement there will be,” he added.
“These are important restrictions still in place for the protection of the public’s health and wellbeing.
“In order to avoid further peaks and local lockdowns, I’m again stressing the need for everyone to be personally responsible and think twice before they go about their business – plan your trips, wear coverings where necessary, and don’t cram in public places where distancing is already difficult to achieve.”