United Kindgom

During the COVID pandemic, police officers have taken to fining members of the public who break government guidelines (exercising too far away from their houses, exercising more than once a day, etc). It has been reported numerous times (and is clear from reading the text of the law), that none of these behaviours are actually illegal, they are simply government guidelines.

How can police officers enforce something that is not stated in law, and, therefore, and these fines lawful?

1 Answer 1


They can’t

But they aren’t

This is the law (as amended). Section 9 contains the penalties.

In any event the police don’t fine people they issue an infringement notice which is an allegation of an offense - police can issue these even if they reasonably believe they took place - they are entitled to be wrong. The person given the notice can admit the offense by paying the fine or contest the allegation by going to court.

  • Well, there's nothing in there about only being allowed out to exercise once. It does also concern itself with leaving your place of residence without a reasonable excuse, not being outside without a reasonable excuse. If people leave the house to exercise (reasonable excuse), and then, having finished, choose to sit on a bench and read a book, I can't see any way in which the law prohibits that, and yet, police officers have moved such people on, threatening to fine them if they do not comply.
    – Alex
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 11:31
  • Oh, just saw your edit with the amendment, thank you.
    – Alex
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 11:32
  • "Reasonable excuse" allows a judgement about what is "reasonable". If you have been outside to exercise once, is it reasonable that you go out again for the same purpose? The police can say it isn't; it's for a court to agree with them (or for the legislation to be clarified). Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 13:51
  • But the courts only decide according to the law. If there is no law, then how would they issue a fine? Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 9:28

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