Senior ministers in Boris Johnson’s government have told citizens to take “personal responsibility” for self-isolation as significant new fines are introduced for those who fail to follow coronavirus guidance.
From Monday, individuals will be fined £1,000 if they do not isolate after being tested positive for Covid-19 or being advised to do so by the NHS app. The fines will increase to £10,000 for repeat offenders.
The government also announced that a glitch in its tracing app had been fixed, which meant some individuals were unable to input positive Covid-19 test results. The Department for Health also announced the app had been downloaded 10m times.
The number of new coronavirus cases fell for the second day in a row on Sunday, with 5,693 people testing positive for the disease. Another 17 people have died from Covid-19 within 28 days of being diagnosed.
Priti Patel, home secretary, said the tougher measures were about “saving lives” and urged people to “take personal responsibility and self-isolate” if ordered to do so.
“These new fines are a clear sign that we will not allow those who break the rules to reverse the hard-won progress made by the law-abiding majority,” she said.
Matt Hancock, health secretary, said the tougher restrictions would “make a huge difference to reduce the spread of the virus”. He added that it was “imperative” to take this action.
Meanwhile, Wales imposed restrictions on another three local council areas, meaning two-thirds of its population will soon be under local lockdowns. The number of people covered by local lockdowns across the UK is more than 21m — almost a third of the population.
Neath Port Talbot, Torfaen and Vale of Glamorgan will have the measures from 6pm on Monday. They took effect in Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelli from Sunday.
The measures include a ban on indoor household mixing and forbidding people to enter or leave the areas without a reasonable excuse such as needing to travel for work or education.
Some 1.9m people in 12 local authority areas in the south of the country will be under lockdown. Mark Drakeford, first minister, told ITV Wales: “Better to act now so that by imposing local requirements at this point so we can get on top of this rise and hopefully look beyond it as fast as we can.”
Infection rates vary from 34.4 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending September 24 in the Vale of Glamorgan to 287.7 per 100,000 in Blaenau Gwent.
Mr Drakeford said there were signs that the lockdown measures had worked in Caerphilly, the first place they were imposed, on September 8. Cases had dropped below 50 per 100,000 in the past week for the first time since the lockdown.
“What that tells us is when these measures are put in place and people make the effort we have seen in Caerphilly we can be successful and the areas can begin the process of moving out of them,” Mr Drakeford said.