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CORONAVIRUS LATEST: PSNI will enforce new powers 'where necessary'

Officers will instruct people to return home if they do not have a reasonable excuse to be out.

CORONAVIRUS LATEST: PSNI will enforce new powers 'where necessary'

PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne

The PSNI have said they will enforce new legislation brought in from 11pm last night where necessary to respond to the 'serious and imminent threat' of Covid-19.

Emergency legislation was introduced on Saturday night to enforce the closing of certain venues and businesses, require people to stay at home, stop all public gatherings of more than two people and to enforce social distancing measures.

In a statement issued by the PSNI, Chief Constable Simon Byrne said dispersal powers would be used in four phases.

He said: "Police will use the new dispersal powers to protect the health of the public and will do so using a four-phase approach.

"Engage with the public to encourage voluntary compliance.

"Explain why dispersal is vital to reduce the spread of this virus.

"Encourage people to disperse.

"Enforce where necessary when people do not listen and put others at risk. We will only do this when it is absolutely necessary."

"Officers will apply their discretion and will ask questions to establish individual circumstances. We will instruct people to return home if they do not have a reasonable excuse to be out of their house. 

The Chief Constable said initial advice would take the form of guidance or a Community Resolution Notice (CRN), but that a fine of £60 could be issued where the measures are disregarded and warned the fine could increase.

He said: "For those who continue to disregard the NI Executive directions, the fine can be doubled each time and summary prosecution can be sought for those who refuse to pay or comply.

"The £60 fine can fall to £30 if paid within 14 days. If a person has already received a fixed penalty notice, the amount will increase to £120 and double on each further repeat offence.

"Officers will apply their discretion and will ask questions to establish individual circumstances. We will instruct people to return home if they do not have a reasonable excuse to be out of their house. 

"From today the public will also notice a change of police style and approach at tourist locations and local open areas to encourage people to adhere to the regulations. 

"Each and every one of us has a personal responsibility to follow the NI Executive regulations and do everything we can to stop the spread of Covid-19."

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