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Enforcement explained: PSNI chief on how officers are dealing with Covid regulations

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Checkpoint: PSNI officers stop cars on the Frosses Road close to the A26 in Antrim to ask the drivers and passengers where they are going to. (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Checkpoint: PSNI officers stop cars on the Frosses Road close to the A26 in Antrim to ask the drivers and passengers where they are going to. (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

Liam McBurney

Checkpoint: PSNI officers stop cars on the Frosses Road close to the A26 in Antrim to ask the drivers and passengers where they are going to. (Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX)

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd has moved to clear up possible confusion regarding police enforcement of the Covid regulations.

Speaking on the BBC's Nolan Show, ACC Todd also spoke about Covid fines during lockdown. Here's all you need to know:

Travel

Police checkpoints were set up over the weekend to ensure members of the public are abiding by the Covid restrictions on travel, as a stay-at-home order is currently in place.

Asked what his interpretation of the law is in terms of someone being stopped while out driving, ACC Todd said: "It really depends on the reason they are out. The guidance is 'stay at home'," he said.

"The regulations outline the reasons for which it is reasonable for you to leave home and we work within that framework and have those conversations with people. When people are [acting] outside of that regulatory framework and are in breach of the regulations, then we will have that conversation with them."

ACC Todd said the PSNI does not have the power to curtail how far someone can travel outside their home. He added that officers can only act if someone is found to be in breach of the regulations set in law, not the guidance.

Policing powers to enter homes

ACC Todd said police to have the power to enter homes where breaches of Covid rules are suspected. "Under the health protection regulations, a designated person, which includes police officers, are authorised to take any action that is necessary to ensure enforcement of the regulations. That includes power of entry," he said.

Enforcement of Covid rules in shops

On the issue of police supporting retail businesses in ensuring everyone is sticking to Covid rules in shops, ACC Todd said: "We have had hundreds of patrols over the weekend and those have included dropping in and speaking to business owners across Northern Ireland and we continue to support them by our presence and the patrols we undertake.

"Clearly we would wish everyone complies with the regulations and wears their face mask in shops, unless they have a medical excuse for not doing so.

"That will continue to be the case."

How many fines have been issued since the new restrictions came into force?

Tighter restrictions came into force across Northern Ireland as of midnight on Thursday, with the stay-at-home order in effect. Police have been able to issue on-the-spot fines to those found to be breaking the rules, as well as prohibition notices to businesses.

ACC Todd said, since the tighter rules came into effect, 168 fines - mostly £200 fines for individuals - have been handed out, with a smaller number of prohibition notices also issued to businesses.

He said the majority of these fines have been issued in respect of house parties and gatherings that breached Covid regulations.

Belfast Telegraph


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