People who are outside during the new coronavirus lockdown will be questioned by police and those not wearing masks in places in which they are required will be fined, police chiefs have warned.
In a new hardline approach to enforcing the third lockdown, Scotland Yard said officers will stop people in the street and ask them to explain why they are out.
Those without a lawful reason face fines of £200, potentially doubling for each subsequent breach up to £6,400.
There will also be no second chance for people caught not wearing masks where they should be worn as the Met warned that officers will not be reasoning with offenders but will impose fines straightaway.
The new instructions to officers – replicated by forces across England and Wales – say they should issue fines more quickly to anyone committing obvious, wilful and serious breaches of the regulations.
The message was underlined by Martin Hewitt, the chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, who wrote in an exclusive article for The Telegraph that there were few excuses for breaches because “everyone should now understand the rules in their area”.