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Posts tagged "coronavirus"

Coronavirus: What powers do police have if people break Covid rules?

The police's role in the coronavirus pandemic is simple: to ensure we follow the new restrictions on our lives.

But in practice, that is a huge challenge for police who are being asked to monitor behaviour that, until March, was perfectly legal.

How do police enforce Covid rules?

Since March, police chiefs have followed a system called "The Four Es". Before fines are issued to rule-breakers, police will first:

  • Engage with people to ask why they appear to be breaking the rules
  • Explain the law, stressing the risks to public health and the NHS
  • Encourage them to change their behaviour
  • Enforce by issuing penalty notices, only as a last resort

Why can you be fined for breaking Covid rules?

The police have a legal duty to make sure the rules are enforced, alongside council environmental health and trading standards officers. And enforcement only works in law if there are fines.

If you break the new England lockdown rules, you could get a fixed penalty notice (FPN), the Covid equivalent of a parking ticket. Since March, almost 20,0000 have been issued.

These now start at £200, rising to £6,400.

Large parties can be shut down by the police - with fines of up to £10,000.

In extreme circumstances, you could be prosecuted and face an even greater fine imposed by a court. Similar rules apply in all parts of the UK.

Can police fine me for being in the street?

Yes. During the England lockdown, you must stay at home unless you have a reasonable excuse to be outside. Your home includes any property associated to it - such as a garden or shed - and also access to it.

The lockdown law sets out in full examples of reasonable excuses.

Police won't fine you for going shopping for essential goods, or to obtain a service from a business that can remain open.

And you're not breaking the law if you go shopping for someone else in your household, or a vulnerable person.

Will police arrest me for exercising?

No. There was enormous confusion in March over how long people could exercise for - and where - leading to Cabinet Minister Michael Gove pronouncing that he thought half an hour was enough.

There are no restrictions in England on how you exercise and for how long - other than you cannot do it in groups.

So you can run or a wander with someone else from your household or, critically, one person you don't live with.

Sitting on park benches is definitely NOT banned. But don't form a gathering if you do because...

Will the police fine me for mingling?

They might. This refers to the ban on "gatherings".

The last version of the restrictions made it a potential crime to "mingle". That language has now gone from the law - but the rules are far, far stricter.

You can no longer meet anyone indoors - other than those in your family, support bubble, people you care for, or for other specific purposes, such as an emergency, or to carry out work.

So, the rules ban social visits - but they do leave wriggle room for lots of the necessities of daily life.

Outside, two people can meet - the law can't really criminalise bumping into someone in the street. Groups larger than that are a no-no for the same social reasons. Again, there are exceptions.

Even if break the rules, how likely am I to be fined?

The Home Office has given the police an extra £30m to pay for specific Covid patrols in England and Wales. Home Secretary Priti Patel met police chiefs on the eve of the new English lockdown - and told them that they now need to "strengthen enforcement" to save lives.

The National Police Chiefs Council hasn't abandoned the Four Es - but expect more fines and more officers asking people what they are doing.

What about the rest of the UK?

The rules differ across the UK - but all forces follow the general principle of the Four Es.

Police will be expected to continue enforcing new rules:

  • Scotland has introduced a five-tier system and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is considering a wider travel ban
  • Wales will leave its so-called "firebreak" lockdown on 9 November - and it is introducing a new system including a general ban on travelling to England, other than for work
  • orthern Ireland might extend its own version of a national lockdown by keeping hospitality closed
  • Can police make me cover my face?

    Yes, and, again, you could face a fixed penalty notice.

    In all parts of the UK you must now wear one in shops. You must also wear them when out in a pub, cafe or restaurant when not sitting at your table.

    Staff and security guards have no formal powers to enforce the wearing of masks. However, they can stop you from entering or demand that you leave their property.

    You must wear a face covering on public transport in all parts of the UK, although some people are exempt. In London, transport officials can issue you with a penalty ticket.

    • What are the rles for face masks or face coverings?
    • Can police check whether I'm isolating?

      If you have returned from an overseas Covid hotspot, or have been told by the NHS Test and Trace system to stay at home, you must quarantine for 14 days.

      The police can now check the NHS Test and Trace database to investigate a tip-off about a quarantine-breaker. Police won't get to see your personal health records.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): immigration guidance

Guidance on immigration provisions made by the Home Office for individuals affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus (COVID-19).

Published 17 February 2020Last updated 27 February 2020 — see all updates From:  

Contents

  1. Chinese nationals in the UK whose visa has recently expired or is about to expire
  2. Non-Chinese, non-EEA nationals in the UK normally resident in China
  3. Chinese nationals in the UK whose visa was granted by Irish authorities (British Irish Visa Scheme (BIVS)
  4. Chinese nationals in the UK whose visa was granted by the Crown Dependencies
  5. Switching to a Tier 2 category in the UK
  6. Information for Chinese or third country nationals in China
  7. British nationals in China who need to apply for a passport
  8. Licensed Tier 2, Tier 4 or Tier 5 sponsors: absences due to coronavirus
  9. Additional immigration queries
  10. Coronavirus Immigration Helpline
  11. Additional resources

Due to travel restrictions because of coronavirus some individuals may be facing uncertainty in relation to the expiry date of their current visa or leave to remain in the United Kingdom. The Home Office understands that in many cases this is because of circumstances outside of your control.

Subject to the below guidance, most people in the UK whose immigration status is affected by the coronavirus outbreak will get an automatic extension of their visa until 31 March 2020.

Read the guidance below to find out if your visa will be automatically extended or if you need to contact the Home Office’s dedicated coronavirus immigration helpline to discuss your circumstances and arrange an extension.

The helpline can only speak to the visa holder or applicant about individual cases. If a third party wishes to speak on their behalf, they must have the visa holder’s permission.

Chinese nationals in the UK whose visa has recently expired or is about to expire

If you are a Chinese national in the UK and have been compliant with the conditions of your visa prior to the coronavirus outbreak, your visa will be automatically extended to 31 March 2020 if your visa has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020.

You’ll also get an automatic extension if you’re in the UK on a long-term standard visitor visa that lasts 2, 5 or 10 years and you have reached the maximum stay of 180 days between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020.

You don’t need to do anything to get this extension.

You will remain subject to the same immigration conditions attached to your visa during the extension period.

You will not automatically receive a new visa or Biometric Residence Permit card.

Your new expiry date (31 March 2020) will be added to UK Visas and Immigration’s systems.

If you need a status letter confirming this extension, or a new Biometric Residence Permit with a revised expiry date, you should contact the coronavirus immigration helpline.

If you have already applied to extend your visa you don’t need to do anything.

If you are intending to apply to extend your stay in the UK before 31 March 2020 you should continue to do so.

Non-Chinese, non-EEA nationals in the UK normally resident in China

If you are a non-Chinese or non-EEA national in the UK but are normally resident in China and your visa in the UK has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020 you should contact the coronavirus immigration helpline.

The team will be able to extend your visa to 31 March 2020 if you can demonstrate you are normally resident in China.

You will remain subject to the same immigration conditions attached to your visa during the extension period.

Chinese nationals in the UK whose visa was granted by Irish authorities (British Irish Visa Scheme (BIVS)

If you are a Chinese national in the UK with a visa that was granted by the Irish authorities and has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020 you should contact the coronavirus immigration helpline to discuss your circumstances.

Chinese nationals in the UK whose visa was granted by the Crown Dependencies

If you are a Chinese national in the UK with a visa that was granted by a Crown Dependency and has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020 you should contact the coronavirus immigration helpline to discuss your circumstances.

Switching to a Tier 2 category in the UK

If you are a Chinese national in the UK on a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa and want to switch to a Tier 2 General visa you normally need to return to China to make your application.

You can exceptionally apply to switch from a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer to a Tier 2 General visa from within the UK if your visa has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020.

You will still need to pay the relevant fee and meet all the requirements of a Tier 2 General visa, other than the requirement that you usually have to apply in China.

Information for Chinese or third country nationals in China

UK Visa Application Centres in China are currently closed.

The Home Office continues to monitor the situation and updates on when the VACs will re-open will be available on VFS’s website.

Bookings for Secure English Language Testing (SELT)

Access to approved Secure English Language Testing (SELT) facilities across China is also currently restricted in line with national requirements, and tests scheduled for March 2020 have been cancelled.

These dates are being kept under review as the situation develops.

Test takers who have already taken their test will receive their Test Report Form (TRF) by mail.

For all the latest information, please visit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)’s website, or contact your test centre directly by email.

Chinese or third country nationals whose passport is at a Visa Application Centre (VAC)

UK Visa Application Centres in China are currently closed.

Where possible we will return passports currently held in VACs to customers via courier, where courier return has been requested. This will not be possible in all locations.

If your passport is currently held in a VAC, but you have not previously arranged for it to be returned by courier, please contact VFS Global directly.

The Home Office continues to monitor the situation and updates on when the VACs will re-open will be available on VFS’s website.

As soon as we are able to re-open the VACs we will prioritise the return of all documents to our customers.

British nationals in China who need to apply for a passport

Due to the closure of Visa Application Centres (VAC), it is not currently possible to apply for a British passport from China. If you urgently need to travel to the UK, you can apply for an emergency travel document.

British passports that were due for collection at a VAC have now been delivered to the British Embassy in Beijing, or the Consulates in Shanghai and Guangzhou. You will be contacted to make arrangements to collect your documents.

The Home Office is monitoring the situation, and as soon as we are able to re-open the VACs we will prioritise the return of documents to our customers.

Licensed Tier 2, Tier 4 or Tier 5 sponsors: absences due to coronavirus

Some Tier 4 students or Tier 2/5 employees may be prevented from attending their studies or employment due to illness, the need to serve a period of quarantine or the inability to travel due to travel restrictions caused by coronavirus.

Sponsors do not need to report student or employee absences related to coronavirus which they have authorised.

Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship if they consider there are exceptional circumstances when:

  • a student will be unable to attend for more than 60 days
  • an employee is absent from work without pay for four weeks or more

Decisions on whether to withdraw a student from their studies or terminate an employment are for sponsors to make. The Home Office recognises the current situation is exceptional and will not take any compliance action against students or employees who are unable to attend their studies/work due to the coronavirus outbreak, or against sponsors which authorise absences and continue to sponsor students or employees despite absences for this reason.

The Home Office will keep this under review, especially if the length of absences mean a potential repeat of period of studies become necessary.

Additional immigration queries

You can also contact the coronavirus immigration helpline if you have any other immigration queries related to coronavirus, including questions about urgent, compelling, compassionate case where a Chinese national or other visa national based in China needs to travel to the UK.

If your query doesn’t relate to immigration provisions associated with coronavirus (COVID-19) please contact the general immigration helpline on 0300 123 2241.

Coronavirus Immigration Helpline

Telephone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)

Calls are free of charge.

Email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk

Due to Data Protection Regulations we can only speak to the visa holder or applicant about their specific query.

If you are a third party (for example family member or sponsor) and wish to speak on their behalf, we must have the visa holder’s permission. This can be provided by verbal consent to the coronavirus immigration helpline or written consent via email. The email to verify consent must be sent from the email address provided on the visa holder’s application to CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk to enable us to provide a response. Without consent we are unable to discuss person-specific details with a third party.

Additional resources

We will keep our guidance under regular review. You can keep up to date by reading the latest Public Health England advice which includes the latest advice for travellers.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has also produced guidance for British people travelling and living overseas following the outbreak, and you can find country-specific information on their travel advice pages for all countries you’re planning to visit or transit.

Published 17 February 2020Last updated 27 February 2020 + show all updates source:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-immigration-guidance-if-youre-unable-to-return-to-china-from-the-uk

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