Student Fined For Breaking Coronavirus Lockdown To Give Friend A Ride To The Airport

A student was fined by police in the U.K. for breaking coronavirus lockdown rules because he wanted to give a friend a ride to the airport.

The 20-year-old's vehicle was pulled over by officers on patrol in Coventry, West Midlands, after they spotted that it was being driven erratically at around 10.15 a.m. on Friday morning, police said in a news release.

Officers found the vehicle was registered to an address in Sheffield, a city in South Yorkshire that is more than 90 miles away. Police said the driver admitted that he had driven from Sheffield to Coventry that morning with another person to pick up a friend.

He was planning to take the friend to Heathrow Airport in London to save him the cost of a taxi, police added. The student told officers that he believed it was acceptable for his to make the journey across the country because he was wearing a face mask.

Instead, officers handed him a fine and told him to return to his home in Sheffield. They also said they had advised him about his behavior during the coronavirus crisis.

Heathrow Airport
A quiet Terminal 5 departure hall at Heathrow Airport on April 15, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Coventry Police Sergeant Darren Walden said he was stunned that the driver had planned to embark on a 360-mile trip while the U.K. remains under lockdown. "It's quite astonishing someone would plan a 360-mile round trip the day after the government extended the national stay-at-home lockdown instructions," he said.

"The driver came down to the city with his flatmate and was in the process of picking up a friend who had a flight booked from Heathrow. The excuse the driver gave was that he wanted to save his friend paying for a taxi – and felt he was OK making the journey as he was wearing a mask."

Walden added that most people that officers have encountered outside their homes are complying with measures.

"Most people we encounter are adhering to the lockdown rules and only heading out for food or medicine essentials, exercise or work that can't be done at home," he added.

"Our officers are continuing to speak to people they encounter to ensure they understand what's being asked of them and to instruct people to return home if they are found flouting the government's order. But we will take enforcement action, and issue fines, if we believe it is necessary."

U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is standing in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson while he recovers after being hospitalized for coronavirus, said last week that the U.K.'s lockdown restrictions would continue for at least another three weeks.

Police in the U.K. have been given powers to issue fines to those breaching the government's guidelines on social distancing, with officers permitted to hand out a £60 ($75) fine for a first offense, £120 ($150) for a second offense and double the amount on each additional offense.

The U.K. has more than 120,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and more than 16,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 430 people have recovered in the U.K. so far.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

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.