Anyone falsely naming an enemy as a coronavirus contact in order to force them to self-isolate can be fined £1,000, under new regulations coming into force today, which also ban pubs and bars from playing loud music or allowing people to sing and dance.
The new offences are among a string of new restrictions included without fanfare in legislation published yesterday, just hours before they came into effect.
New fines for failure to self-isolate, starting at £1,000 for a first offence and rising to as much as £10,000 after four breaches, were well publicised in advance.
But details of the legislation have now revealed that the penalty on a first offence can be quadrupled to £4,000 if the breach is committed “recklessly”.
This could involve someone who knows they are infective and has been told to remain away from others deliberately going to a workplace or pub or onto public transport where they expect to come into contact with people who they might infect.
Meanwhile, anyone giving false information to a test and trace official could be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £1,000 for a first offence, rising to £10,000 for a fourth repeat.
The legislation makes clear that fines can be imposed for “falsely stating … that someone is a close contact of a person who has tested positive for coronavirus”, making it illegal to maliciously attempt to use the system to force an enemy into self-isolation.
But it is understood that the ban on giving “false information” would also catch someone who omitted to mention that they had been in close contact with a friend or relative, in the hope of helping them escape the need to go into a 14-day quarantine.
Employees could face a £50 fine if they fail to tell their bosses that they have been told to self-isolate.
This measure is intended to employers cannot claim ignorance if they are subjected to a £1,000 fine for allowing self-isolating staff to attend their workplace.
Meanwhile, the guidance for hospitality venues such as pubs, bars and restaurants to avoid loud music, singing and dancing has now become a legal requirement.
The new regulations state that venues must not play recorded music above 85 decibels – around the volume of an alarm clock, power tool or lawnmower. Live music will continue to be permitted above this volume.
Meanwhile, new bans prevent groups of more than six people singing as well as any dancing on the premises by customers.
The only exemptions on the dancing ban are at wedding or civil partnership receptions, and even then only the happy couple themselves are allowed to take to the dance floor.