March 25, 2020 / 5:52 PM / 11 days ago

False claim: UK government sending fines by text message for breaching lockdown rules

Posts being shared on social media (example here) make the claim that the UK government is issuing fines to people via text if they leave their homes multiple times a day.

This claim comes after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday (March 23) ordered people to stay at home to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.  Under the curbs on movement, Britons have been instructed to leave home only for very limited reasons, including going to supermarkets for vital supplies or for exercise once a day.

The post contains an image showing two text messages apparently from the sender ‘UK_GOV’ reading:

“GOV.UK CORONAVIRUS ALERT  New rules in force now: you must stay at home. More info & exemptions at gov.uk/coronavirus  Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.” 

“You have been outside of your house 3 times today, you are in breach of government guidelines. Your £30 fine will be added to your bill.”

The British government said in a statement on March 24 that a text identical to the first would be sent to all members of the public with a registered phone number (here).

The Prime Minister’s office confirmed to Reuters that only one text message had been sent, and that any others claiming to be from the British government were fake (here).

“UK Government has sent out only one text message on new rules about staying at home to prevent the spread of #coronavirus (see below). If you see others claiming to be from UK Government, they are false,” a statement posted on the No 10 Press Office Twitter on March 25 said.

The new measures state that the public should stay at home unless for one of the following reasons (here):

Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.

One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.

Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.

Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

Apart from exercise, which is limited to once a day, members of the public are not restricted to how many times they leave the house for reasons approved by the government. However, Britons are asked to make shopping as infrequent as possible.

The government has announced that those who do not comply with the rules may receive a £30 fine, however these would be spot fines from police, and not fines delivered by text.(here)

VERDICT 

False: the UK government has not sent citizens text messages to tell them they have been fined for breaching national lockdown rules. This is a hoax screenshot.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work here .

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