UK to toughen social distancing measures

The UK government has announced that tougher measures targeting the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions will come into effect on Friday ahead of the bank holiday weekend.

In a statement on Sunday, the Home Office said that those facilitating or organising illegal raves, unlicensed music events, or any other unlawful gathering of 30 people or more may face a 10,000-pounds ($13,087) fine, reports Xinhua news agency.

Fines of 100 pounds will continue to be issued to those who participate in illegal gatherings and those who have already received a fine will see the amount of doubled on each offence, up to a maximum of 3,200 pounds, said the statement.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can set their own enforcement rules.

“These gatherings are dangerous and those who organise them show a blatant disregard for the safety of others.

“We will continue to crack down on the small minority who think they are above the law,” said Home Secretary Priti Patel.

The announcement comes after a number of illegal gatherings continued despite the ban.

On Saturday, police in Birmingham disrupted more than 70 unlicensed social gatherings including house and street parties, one of which featured marquees and a DJ, the BBC reported.

In Huddersfield, officers broke up an illegal rave involving about 300 people.

Two police vehicles were damaged and four people arrested after officers broke up a party breaking lockdown rules in Greater Manchester, where restrictions between households continue.

About 50 people were at the gathering at a house, which had a gazebo set up with loud speakers, music equipment and party lights, Greater Manchester Police said.

And in Blackburn, Lancashire, where extra restrictions are also in force, more than 150 people gathered for a rave at a reservoir.