"we will not allow those who break the rules"
From September 28, 2020, failure to self-isolate in England will be illegal, with fines of up to £10,000.
Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19, or has been told they have been in contact with someone who has, now has a legal duty to quarantine.
This comes after a government-commissioned study found that just 18% of people who had symptoms went into isolation.
From Monday, it will be a punishable offence not to comply with an official instruction to self-isolate.
Fines will start at £1,000 and rise to £10,000 for repeat offenders or serious breaches.
The government said that police can check that people are abiding by the rules in virus hotspots and among high-risk groups based on “local intelligence”.
This new law applies to people who have tested positive for Covid-19, or who have been told by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate because they have been in contact with someone with the virus.
If someone tests positive, it is illegal to knowingly give bogus information about their close contacts to NHS Test and Trace.
People on low incomes who cannot work and are losing income while self-isolating will be able to get a £500 payment.
Nearly four million people who receive benefits in England will be eligible for the payment.
The Department of Health said that it will be backdated once the scheme is properly set up in their council area.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said that the new fines were “a clear sign that we will not allow those who break the rules to reverse the hard-won progress made by the law-abiding majority”.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock stated that if positive cases continued to rise, the government would “not hesitate” to introduce further measures.
NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said that NHS Test and Trace “has now become as important in a sense as catching criminals, fighting fires and treating heart attacks”.
“It’s a key public service and if it doesn’t work, then we all suffer.”
“We’ve all got a role to play in making this service work – if you’ve got symptoms you need to get a test quickly; if the test turns out positive you’ve got to self-isolate, you’ve then got to pass your contacts on to Test and Trace.”
Mr Hopson went on to say that England would need “probably four times as many tests as we’ve currently got” going into winter.
He added that there was a need to build testing facilities much closer to people’s homes and workplaces.
As of the last week of August, over 19,000 fines had been issued in England and Wales for alleged breaches of Covid-19 laws.
The UK government hopes that the new fines will be replicated in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The crackdown on self-isolation comes after it was found that the number of people with symptoms following the rules was low.
Although 70% of people intended to self-isolate, only 11% actually went into quarantine after being asked to do so.
The most common reasons for failure to self-isolate included that they needed to go to the shops or because their symptoms improved.
Men and younger people were also less likely to follow the guidance.