FACT CHECK: Is The British Government Sending People Fines Via Text For Violating Coronavirus Stay-At-Home Rules?

Trevor Schakohl | Legal Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a text message from the U.K. government issuing a fine to someone who left their home multiple times in a day.

Verdict: False

The bottom text message is fake. The U.K. government is not sending text messages notifying people of fines they have incurred for violating the stay-at-home order.

Fact Check:

On March 23, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered people not to leave their homes except for limited purposes, including shopping for food and medicine and exercising once a daily, in an effort to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. The U.K. government said that it would send a text message to people throughout the country informing them of these rules.

The viral Facebook post contains two text messages allegedly sent by the British government. The top text message matches the real one sent to U.K. residents with registered phone numbers.

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

The second text message, though also attributed in the post to the sender “UK_Gov,” was not sent by the British government, however. (RELATED: Does This Photo Show Tom Hanks Quarantined In Australia With Wilson The Volleyball?)

“You have been out of your house three times today, you are in breach of government guidelines,” it reads. “Your £30 fine will automatically be added to your bill.”

The British government stated in a March 25 Facebook post that only a one text message identical to the top one had been sent.

“UK Government has sent out only one text message on new rules about staying at home to prevent the spread of #coronavirus (see below),” reads the Facebook post. “If you see others claiming to be from UK Government, they are false.”

Individuals who break the stay-at-home order rules may receive an on-the-spot fine of £60 from police officers, though that fine can go down to £30 if paid within two weeks, according to the U.K. government’s website.

Trevor Schakohl

Legal Reporter
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