New powers to enforce coronavirus social distancing come into force in Wales
New powers to help reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), protect the NHS and save lives have now come into force in Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed.
The First Minister has signed into law new public health regulations strengthening police enforcement powers in Wales.
Individuals will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:
- Shopping for basic necessities and supplies, which should be as infrequently as possible
- One form of exercise a day - for example, a run, walk or cycle - alone or with members of their household
- Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person, and
- Travelling to and from work, but only where they cannot reasonably practicably work from home.
People should stay at least 2m away from each other at all times.
Participating in gatherings of more than 2 people in public spaces is also not permitted except in very limited circumstances, for example, where it is for essential work purposes. The police will have powers to enforce this.
If people do not comply with these new laws:
- they can be directed to return home or removed from where they are and returned home
- they may have to pay a fixed penalty notice of £30, which if not paid within 14 days will double to £60, and if they are issued with a second or subsequent notice the charge will be £120
Individuals who do not pay a fixed penalty notice under the regulations could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.
If an individual continues to refuse to comply, they will be acting unlawfully, and the police may arrest them.
However, in the first instance the police will always apply their common sense and discretion.
First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford said:
The new law coming into force today sets out what we need people across Wales to do: stay at home to protect our NHS and save lives.
I want to thank our NHS, and other front line services for the absolutely incredible job they’re doing during these incredibly testing times.
If we all follow these rules, we will stop this terrible virus from spreading, we will save lives, and we will protect the NHS.
The new powers I have signed into law will give our police the powers they need to protect the public and keep people safe.
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