Devon and Cornwall Police is set to turn its attentions to out-of-household groups and public gatherings following the relaxation of lockdown restrictions.
Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said police would use enforcement options available to them as a ‘last resort’ where there is clear evidence of people gathering unlawfully.
People who refuse to follow regulations can be issued with a £100 fine for a first offence – reduced to £50 if paid promptly – up to a maximum of £3,200.
However, police are unable to enforce social distancing, the wearing of masks or distance of travel after the Government announced there is no longer a restriction on how far people can travel for exercise.
CC Sawyer said: “We will adapt to the new terms of the regulations and will positively engage with the public as we have been doing for the past two months.
“There remains a role for the police and our Covid-focus will now turn towards groups of three or more people outside of one household, and public gatherings as these are not lawful under the amended regulations which took effect on 13 May 2020.
“Where the evidence is clear and as a last resort, officers will use enforcement options that are available to them.”
CC Sawyer urged people to ‘think twice’ when they leave the house and continue to ‘do what is required’ to limit a potential spread of the virus.
He also advised those thinking of travelling into the area and visiting the region’s beaches and beauty spots to ‘wait just a little longer’ to do so.
He said: “I believe the vast majority of the public understand the seriousness of the virus and will continue to do what is required. Personal responsibility is now key and we are continuing to ask the public to ‘Think Twice’ when they leave the house; is it safe and is it fair?
“My message to those people considering travel into the force area would be that we would love to welcome you back but ask that you wait just a little longer.
“Cafés and restaurants remain closed, there are a lack of open facilities and we do not have lifeguards on all our beaches. There has been a national collective effort to protect all communities and we are need this national effort to continue for a little bit longer.”
He added: “We would like to thank our public for their support. We will continue to do our best to work with them and where we do not have the powers to enforce we will maintain our current approach of engage, educate and encourage.
“It is important we remember why we are all being asked to do this, which is to save lives.”