Coronavirus POLL: As ‘covidiots’ ignore rules, should police launch harsher crackdown?

People flocked to some of London’s most popular areas on the weekend, including Broadway Market in Hackney, east London and Crystal Palace Park in south-east London. Those breaching Government guidelines advising Britons to stay home have been branded “covidiots”, with many people calling for the police to impose harsher punishments on those caught flouting the rules.

Pictures from the popular London areas showed they were bustling with people, with one group of friends carrying pints of beer and others congregating in groups to eat food in parks.

There was also a marked increase in the number of cars on the road, with figures from TomTom showing there had been a two percent rise in traffic compared with the previous Saturday in London.

Manchester saw a similar rise, with traffic up one percent when compared with the previous Saturday.

Long queues were also seen outside DIY stores B&Q and Homebase, after the two retailers recently re-opened their doors to the public.

Government guidelines state that people must stay at home except for the following reasons: to purchase essential items, for a medical need or to help a vulnerable person, one form of daily exercise, or to travel to work – if it’s essential.

Ministers have urged people to adhere to social distancing measures while going out for their one form of daily exercise and stay two metres away from other people.

Britons are not allowed to meet up with people outside of their household, and have been advised against sitting down in public.

People have been told they cannot sunbathe outside or have picnics in public places, such as parks.

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Under new legalisation passed in March, police have the powers to issue on-the-spot fines to those caught breaking the lockdown rules.

People can be fined £60, which is halved if paid swiftly.

Repeat offenders face a doubling of the fine each time.

But some people have argued the punishments are not harsh enough and provide little discouragement for breaking the rules.

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Ministers are understood to be considering increasing fines for breaching the lockdown rules.

The possible toughening of the enforcement regime would see fines start at £100 and double for a repeat offence. Consequently a second offence would mean a £200 fine, a third £400, a fourth £800, then £1,600 and finally a sixth offence would cost £3,200.

It would mean the offender would end up £6,300 out of pocket.

Anyone who fails to pay the fine can be jailed.

Commenting on the proposals, a Whitehall source told the Telegraph: “In the next phase of our fight against coronavirus some of the social distancing measures will be relaxed, others will be toughened up.

“Hand in hand with the new rules will come tougher enforcement powers for the police to crack down on the small minority who break the rules – and stop them putting everyone else at greater risk.”

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