A group of people in a car who claimed they were on their way to get a McDonald’s breakfast have been fined £800 for breaching coronavirus rules.
Police pulled over the vehicle at around 5am on Wednesday morning in Bedford Road, Northampton.
The two men and two women inside claimed they were on their way to the fast food giant for breakfast – even though the restaurant didn't open for another two hours.
Enquiries confirmed the four were not from the same household, so the journey breached lockdown rules which officially came into force at midnight.
As a result, their early-morning takeaway turned out way more expensive than planned when each person was handed a £200 fine.
Northampton Response Team wrote on Twitter: “At 5am we stopped a car with 4 people in… Just going to McDonald's.
At 5am we stopped a car with 4 ppl in.. Just going to McDonald's... Not all of them live in the same household, 4x COVID tickets issued. Pls make sure you are up to date with the most recent https://t.co/87k1cZPEXb guidance to make sure you don't end up with a ticket! @NP_PC862 pic.twitter.com/QACRkhNmM5
— Northampton Response Team (@NptonResponse) January 6, 2021
“Not all of them live in the same household, 4x COVID tickets issued.
“Please make sure you are up to date with the most recent guidance to make sure you don't end up with a ticket!”
On Thursday morning, home secretary Priti Patel would not give a straight answer when questioned over whether police should stop motorists to check people were from the same household.
Challenged on LBC about the issue, she responded: "The police will exercise their professional judgement depending on the circumstances and the situation that they see.”
Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown
When asked again, Patel said she would support the police “depending on the circumstances”.
Valid reasons include essential shopping, going to work, medical reasons and exercise once a day.
In addition, people are only allowed to meet up with one other person from outside their own household, and only when outdoors.
Car sharing is allowed but only people from a single household or support bubble can travel together in a vehicle.
A Northamptonshire Police spokesman added: “The vast majority of people across Northamptonshire continue to act responsibly however, a small minority continue to spoil it for everyone else.
“If you are the kind of person who decides to put others at risk with irresponsible behaviour, you can expect us to take the appropriate action.”
Anyone aged 18 or over can be fined £200 for a first offence – lowered to £100 if paid within 14 days – £400 for a second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £6,400.
Watch: Restrictions will remain in place until they are no longer necessary – Hancock