Police will be authorised to use force to send people back home if they refuse to obey the coronavirus lockdown, under government plans.
Ministers will issue fuller details by Thursday of how police will enforce the lockdown ordered by the prime minister on Monday, aimed at stopping the spread of the virus by keeping people apart.
The Guardian has learned that, under plans being discussed by ministers and senior officials, officers would first encourage and cajole people to go back indoors if they suspect them of being out of their home in breach of the ban. If that and the issuing of a fine failed, reasonable force could be used as a last resort.
Exemptions are expected to be built in for those fleeing domestic violence, for religious ministers tending to their duties, separated parents seeing their children, homeless people, and those complying with bail conditions. No exemption is planned for people who live separately from their partner or the person they are dating.
Justifications for being outside, already announced by Boris Johnson, include exercising once a day, buying essentials such as food and medicine, caring duties and going to work if it is not possible to work from home. Gatherings of more than two people are banned.
Fines under a fixed penalty notice will start at ??30 and if paid will not lead to a criminal record. If someone refuses to pay, they can be prosecuted at a magistrates court. Delays in paying and further breaches will lead to escalating fines.
Under the plans, if an officer on patrol sees someone out of their home and believe they are breaching the lockdown, they start a ???four-step plan???, according to multiple sources.