The government has announced a legal requirement on people to self-isolate when instructed by NHS Test and Trace, with fines for those who fail to do so and for any businesses which threaten self-isolating staff with redundancy
From 28 September, individuals will be required by law to self-isolate, supported by payment of £500 for those on lower incomes who cannot work from home and have lost income as a result.
Just under four million people who are in receipt of benefits in England will be eligible for this money.
Local authorities will be setting up the self-isolation support schemes, with the government saying it expect them to be in place by 12 October. Those who start to self-isolate from 28 September will receive backdated payments once the scheme is set up in their local authority.
New fines for those breaching self-isolation rules will start at £1,000 – bringing this in line with the penalty for breaking quarantine after international travel.
However, the government has said the fines could increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and for the most egregious breaches, including for those preventing others from self-isolating.
For example, this could include business owners who threaten self-isolating staff with redundancy if they do not come to work, and is intended to send a clear message that this will not be tolerated.
A number of steps will be taken to make sure that people are complying with the rules.
NHS Test and Trace call handlers will be making regular contact with those self-isolating, with the ability to escalate any suspicion of non-compliance to local authorities and local police.
In highest incidence areas and in high-risk groups, the police will be using local intelligence to check compliance, and have been tasked with investigating and prosecuting high-profile and egregious cases of non-compliance.
The police will also be acting on instances where third parties have identified others who have tested positive, but are not self-isolating.
Prime minister Boris Johnston said: ‘The best way we can fight this virus is by everyone following the rules and self-isolating if they’re at risk of passing on coronavirus.
‘And so nobody underestimates just how important this is, new regulations will mean you are legally obliged to do so if you have the virus or have been asked to do so by NHS Test and Trace.
‘People who choose to ignore the rules will face significant fines.
‘And while most people are doing their absolute level best to comply with the rules, I don’t want to see a situation where people don’t feel they are financially able to self-isolate.
‘That’s why we’re also introducing a new £500 Test and Trace Support payment for those on low incomes who are required by NHS Test and Trace to remain at home to help stop the spread of the virus.’