COVID-19: The excuses people have been giving for breaking lockdown

Tuesday 12th January 2021 15:30 GMT

Though the rules on the government website state "stay local means stay in the village, town, or part of the city where you live", one minister has conceded the term is "open to interpretation, but people broadly know what local means".

Two women who were fined £200 after travelling to a reservoir for a walk around five miles from their homes have had their penalties cancelled.

Here is a look at some of the reasons people have given for leaving their homes and breaching current COVID-19 regulations.

Live COVID updates as Britons warned over lockdown

To go to the beach

A motorist was stopped by police for travelling from the market town of Newcastle Under Lyme in Staffordshire, to the seaside town of Prestatyn in Denbighshire in Wales "because the driver wanted to go to the beach".

"This vehicle came to our attention due to the manner of driving," tweeted North Wales Police Special Constabularly on Sunday.

It also transpired the driver had no insurance and only a provisional licence. Officers seized the vehicle and reported her for three offences.

To climb a mountain in trainers in the dark

Five people, including four teenagers, were stopped by the same police force a day earlier for travelling from England to Snowdonia to climb 918m Tryfan in the dark.

The lockdown rule-breakers had driven to Ogwen Cottage in North Wales from Ellesmere Port in Cheshire.

Police tweeted: "Our team continue to come across motorists travelling in breach of COVID regs."

To visit all 92 football league grounds

A man was stopped and fined by police on Saturday after he told officers he was attempting to visit all 92 football league grounds in a road trip during lockdown.

He came to the attention of Lincolnshire Police after his vehicle was registered outside of the area in Chesterfield.

"Driver stated he was having a road trip to football grounds around the country having left Chesterfield yesterday," the force tweeted.

"You simply couldn't make it up! #COVID19 penalty ticket issued along with the strongest words of advice!"

For 'coffee or chips'

Police criticised day trippers for turning up to a Cheshire beauty spot "for coffee or chips" on Sunday.

Hundreds of people descended on Parkgate and several were told to go home.

In a strongly worded message on Facebook, Neston & Parkgate Police said: "When will people get the message that we are in Lockdown and they have been told to stay home!

"Take a look at the number of COVID deaths and maybe that will wake visitors up - stay at home and do not come to Parkgate.

"Turning up for coffee or chips and sitting on the wall is not a reasonable excuse for leaving home.

"Over 80,000 people are dead from COVID - so stay home and do as the government have directed."

To hunt for Pokemon

Police have been cracking down on Pokemon Go players using the app outdoors during lockdown.

In a now deleted Twitter post, Essex Police in Rochford said officers on patrol "had cause to speak with a number of different men, aged 30+ over the last week, who seemed to feel it is acceptable to attend certain public places within the district, to hunt Pokemon".

"Honestly, yes, you did read that correctly."

Attached to the post was official guidance from Essex County Council on the current lockdown rules.

To see seals

A man who travelled 80 miles with his children to see seals in Horsey, Norfolk, at the weekend was fined by police.

Officers also issued fixed penalty notices to a couple in their 50s who made a 120-mile journey from Hertfordshire for the same purpose on Thursday.

More than 30 people were fined in Norfolk over the weekend for breaching the COVID-19 restrictions.

Six men were fined in Great Yarmouth after meeting to play a game of football on a recreation ground, while a man was fined for having five people in his car, all from different households.

To attend a gathering at a bar being live-streamed

Police issued 30 fines to people who attended a gathering at a bar in Barnet on Saturday which was being live-streamed on Instagram.

Officers attended a restaurant at around 2am in High Road following reports from the public of a breach of the lockdown.

As well as the individual fines, the Metropolitan Police said the owner of the establishment was being considered for a £10,000 fine, and the venue's alcohol licence is also under review by the local council.

Temporary Chief Superintendent Louis Smith, North West BCU Commander, said: "The fact that this breach of Covid regulations happened within the same 24 hours as the mayor of London declaring a major incident is as shocking as it is disappointing."

To attend a children's birthday party

A person was fined by police for travelling 80 miles from Birmingham to Warrington to attend a children's birthday party.

It was one of 58 fixed penalty notices handed out by Cheshire Police over the weekend, including three at a barbecue in Chester and eight to people at a house party after reports of loud music.

The force said several vehicles were also stopped carrying multiple occupants who were not from the same household or the Cheshire area and were travelling without a reasonable excuse.

Police threaten £200 fine for frightening vulnerable people

Frightening vulnerable people could land you a £200 fine for breaking lockdown rules, a police force has warned.

It comes after snowballs were reported being thrown at the homes of vulnerable elderly residents in the market town of Broseley in Shropshire between 11pm and 11.30pm on Friday.

"This behaviour is not acceptable at any time," Broseley and Much Wenlock Safer Neighbourhood Team, of West Mercia Police, tweeted at the time.

"This is obviously not a justifiable reason to be out of your house, this behaviour is likely to result in a £200 Fixed Penalty Notice for breaking the lockdown rules."

The force has since deleted the tweet, but Superintendent Mo Lansdale later clarified: "In relation to last night's incidents we are speaking to a number of people to identify who the three individuals involved were. At this time, no one has been spoken to or issued with an FPN.

"The pandemic is stressful enough for people, particularly those that are more vulnerable, without them being made to feel worse and isolated in their own homes as a result of disgraceful anti-social behaviour.

"We will not tolerate the targeting of vulnerable people and there are a number of powers available to us to protect people. One such power could be the FPN under the Covid-19 regulations as, I think we can all agree, frightening vulnerable people is not a reasonable excuse to have left your home."

Now On Air
Coast Afternoon with Neill Maguire
Live from St Just – great music, fun and special features with Neill.