Fines given to nursing students who drove from Leeds to Filey for fish and chips as police say covid rule-breaking has increased by third

Police have urged residents in North Yorkshire to stick to covid regulations after they reported a three-fold increase in rule-breaking over the past week.

Filey Bay

Some 255 fines have been issued over the past week, 169 of them over the weekend.

They have warned that planned relaxations of covid measures are in jeopardy unless people continue to follow the rules.

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The first relaxation of covid restrictions takes place on Monday March 8, with rules changing to allow people to meet with one other person socially outdoors.

The return of the rule of six people able to mix outdoors including in gardens is not scheduled until March 29.

But police said they have seen an increase in cases of outdoor mixing since the Prime Minister set out the roadmap to restrictions ending.

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said that officers were issuing fines to residents they wouldn’t normally encounter and who were previously unknown to the force.

Police said in the past week that they had issued fines to six students, including three nursing students and three studying law, who had driven from Leeds to Filey to have fish and chips on the beach.

Twenty-one people in Scarborough who were caught at a 40th birthday party over the weekend were each given an £800 fine - a total of £16,800 from one gathering.

They had also broken up group a nine friends from two households in Hull who met at Filey Country Park to have a barbecue.

The Scarborough area remained the hot-spot for fixed penalty notices being issued, with 127 given.

Some 31 fines were also issued in York, 30 in Hambleton, 20 in Harrogate, 15 in Richmond, 13 in Craven, 11 in Selby and eight in Ryedale.

A total of 1272 fines have been issued across the county since the start of the current lockdown, with 3165 issued since the beginning of restrictions in March 2020.

The fine for a first offence of breaking restrictions is £200, lowered to £100 if paid within 14 days, and £400 for a second offence, doubling with each further offence to a maximum of £6000.

Supt Mike Walker said: “Officers are reporting a marked change in people’s behaviour and attitude.

“It seems that people are starting to relax their approach to the national lockdown, with more people heading to the coast for a day out.

“We are not home and dry yet. We’re not at the point where we can abandon social distancing and just throw caution to the wind.

“I know that we all have March 29 circled in our calendar, so imagine the disappointment we will feel if the Prime Minister announces the data does not support us being able to relax.”