Man Fined by Police After Being Caught Driving 100 Miles to Visit Girlfriend During Coronavirus Lockdown

A man has been fined by police after he was caught driving more than 100 miles to visit his girlfriend in the U.K., in defiance of governmental lockdown restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The man was among 23 people handed fines by Avon and Somerset Police officers, Chief Constable Andy Marsh said during a Facebook Live stream, on Tuesday. He said the fines were not issued in situations where there was ambiguity, adding that the majority of people were complying with the rules.

"None of them were issued in areas of ambiguity, gray areas... all of them were things such as someone who'd driven over 100 miles to visit his girlfriend," he said. "Four people who were not in the same household were out in a car... they refused to go home."

Last week, police in England were given powers to issue fines to those flouting the government's restrictions.

Police check
Police officers stop motorists in cars to check that their travel is "essential" in line with the British Government's COVID-19 advice in York, northern England on March 30, 2020. Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images

Police can issue a £60 ($75) fine for a first offense, £120 ($150) for a second offense and double the amount on each additional offense.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that people are only allowed to leave their homes for specific reasons—shopping for essential items, one form of exercise a day, medical or health reasons and to go to work, but only if it cannot be done from home.

Marsh also said that six officers were coughed at, spat at, bitten or assaulted by people who claimed to have coronavirus while attending incidents over the weekend.

He said none of those incidents occurred while officers were enforcing the lockdown rules in relation to the coronavirus.

"They all happened behind closed doors, usually domestic violence type incidents and usually when alcohol was involved," he said. Marsh said the offenders would be prosecuted.

"It's bad enough doing a dangerous job, let alone being assaulted anyway and let alone being assaulted when you fear you might be infected with what is a horrible and unpredictable virus. It is worrying for the officers."

But Marsh added: "Many of our neighborhoods and towns are deserted. There's a tremendous amount of compliance because I think people understand we need to stop the transmission of this disease, we need to protect our NHS (National Health Service) and save lives.

"On behalf of the police officers and staff, thanks you for the support we've had, thank you for complying.... hopefully this is a step in the right direction.

"We're all on the front line of this. Every single one of us can help stop the spread of this virus."

There are more than 25,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in the U.K., according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. There have 1,793 deaths, while 179 people have recovered.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.
Man Fined by Police After Being Caught Driving 100 Miles to Visit Girlfriend During Coronavirus Lockdown | World