Ceredigion residents are being warned they risk fines of up to £10,000 and possible criminal conviction if they breach COVID rules.
The warning comes following recent massive fines being issued to the organisers of parties and mass gatherings.
As part of the national fire-break, which was introduced by the Welsh Government in response to a sharp rise in cases of coronavirus, and to save lives and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed, people in Wales have to follow strict rules, including staying at home, except for very limited purposes, and not visiting other households or meeting people they do not live with.
Failure to follow the rules would result in fixed penalty notices being issued, carrying a fine of £60, which would increase to £120 for a second offence and continues to double for repeated offences, up to a maximum of £1,920. If prosecuted, a court can impose unlimited fines. Meanwhile, organising an unlicensed music event of more than 30 people is a separate criminal offence punishable by conviction and an unlimited fine or, as an alternative to conviction, by a fixed penalty set at £10,000.
Dyfed-Powys Police Superintendent, Robyn Mason, said: “Let’s be clear - the national firebreak measures apply to everyone in Wales. We are supporting the Welsh Government in its efforts to regain control of coronavirus across our communities, and our officers and PCSOs are being proactive to help keep us all safe. Our approach in the first instance is to engage with people, explain what you need to do and encourage compliance. But for those that don’t respond, we do have powers and we will use them.
“Everyone needs to understand the severity of the situation, and the potentially serious health consequences for individuals and their loved ones, which should see them complying with the regulations – without having to be issued penalties. But if they refuse to comply we will enforce. The success of the firebreak depends on each and every one of us playing our part. It’s simple, before going somewhere or doing something, ask yourself if it’s really necessary.”
Ros Jervis is public health director at Hywel Dda University Health Board and chair of the Ceredigion Incident Management Team, a multi-agency partnership between Ceredigion County Council, Aberystwyth University, Public Health Wales, Dyfed-Powys Police, the Ceredigion Contact Tracing Team and Aberystwyth Student Union. The IMT was established to tackle the spread of the virus in the county. She said: “While the majority of people are behaving responsibly and protecting themselves and others, it is apparent that a small minority are not following the rules, which in turn is putting people’s health and even lives at risk. I strongly urge people to follow the rules, maintain social distancing guidelines, wear face coverings, wash hand regularly, and get tested if they have any symptoms – a new persistent cough, loss or change of taste or smell, or a high temperature.”
In Manchester, the organiser of a party attended by more than 50 people received a £10,000 fine for breaching Covid-19 regulations. Meanwhile, in Nottingham, four students received fines of £10,000 each for breaching lockdown restrictions by hosting a house party.
Tests must be booked via the online UK portal at www.gov.wales/coronavirus.