A police force has said it will not back down from the breakup of builders working too close to each other amid growing confusion over how the new lock rules are applied across the UK.
Derbyshire police launched “proactive” patrols that included cars with speakers ordering people to go inside. The force said it was ready to intervene on construction sites if construction workers operated within two meters of each other in violation of social distancing rules.
But other forces contacted by The Telegraph are pursuing a more “softly” approach, not wanting to fine people caught for violating the coronavirus lock.
Under new emergency powers, groups refusing to disperse can receive an initial fixed penalty notice of £ 30. Failure to pay, non-compliance or repeated non-compliance could result in new fines and prosecution, resulting in a criminal record.
The National Council of Chiefs of Police has issued new national guidelines for fighting coronavirus rule breakers, encouraging police to “hire, explain and encourage” crowds to disperse. “If they fail,” the guidelines said, officers should be fined.
The application of the new lockout has been made more problematic by confusion over its application, with the government continuing to insist that builders, although not considered key workers, be allowed to go to work.
The Telegraph has learned that Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has refused to order the closure of construction sites, deeply concerned that this would lead to the collapse of the British economy.
As a guide, the government has stated that tradespeople can work “at home” provided they have no symptoms of coronavirus and remain within two meters of the owner at all times.
Two of Britain’s largest builders, Bellway and Persimmon, ignored the Prime Minister’s attempts to keep construction sites going and announced a voluntary halt.
Bellway has announced that it will close its 200 construction sites by the end of Friday.
As further evidence of the complications faced by the authorities in enforcing the foreclosure, Next, the high street fashion chain, began offering staff an additional 20% compensation for going to closed stores and selecting clothes for them. online orders “to keep the business in business”, according to a letter seen by PA.
Worried staff wondered if picking up clothes was “essential” work, when the government asked all non-essential workers to temporarily avoid unnecessary trips.
A fashion chain spokesperson said, “A very small number of employees at any one time are required to help with online orders. This will allow for social distancing while these tasks are performed. ”
He also stressed that the new arrangements are entirely voluntary and that no one is required to report for work.
Derbyshire police have said they will not back down from law enforcement under any circumstances, including construction sites.
A spokesperson said, “We are undertaking proactive patrols and officers are targeting groups of people.”
The force said it had “no specific instructions on construction sites … but if people are seen in a group, wherever they are, then they will be spoken to and advice will be given.”
An armed forces officer used a megaphone to send the quarantine message to a suburb of Derby on Tuesday evening, saying, “This is a police message. You have to stay inside. You can only go out to go to work and go home, to go to the store, get medicine and do one exercise a day. It’s serious. We have to beat corona and we can only do that if we work together.
In Southend-on-Sea, Essex police issued three community protection warnings after finding a group of people drinking in the sun in a downtown parking lot. Meanwhile, in Watford, Hertfordshire, the police were forced to disperse a group of around 10 to 15 people who were playing cricket and also had to warn a group that was lining up close to each other in a ice cream van. South Yorkshire police arrested a group of young boys who were playing soccer on a playground.
Simon Bailey, police chief of the Norfolk Constabulary, said his force was ready to disperse groups of more than two people and impose fines on those who refuse.
Metropolitan police, the largest British force, are less willing to fine or annoy residents.
A spokesperson said, “If we suspect that someone is violating the restrictions, we will speak to them, explain what the restrictions require them to do, and ask them to comply in order to help prevent the spread of the virus and ultimately save lives. ”