NORTHUMBRIA Police have stepped up patrols as they follow national tactics to enforce lockdown rules during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Government said earlier this week that the public should leave their home only for essential shopping, a once-daily bout of exercise, medical need or travelling to and from work where absolutely necessary.

However, there has been widespread confusion about the rules, with reports of hundreds of people driving to Northumberland beauty spots for exercise over the last week.

Northumbria Police officers were seen in Kielder on Thursday questioning visitors on their reason for travel and asking whether it was essential.

Laws that came into place on Thursday gave officers the power to issue spot £60 fines for those flouting the law, which will be reduced to £30 if paid within two weeks.

Police in Durham and North Yorkshire have begun roadside checks on motorists and pedestrians, questioning them about their reasons for being out.

But it is unclear whether Northumbria Police will enforce similar measures.

A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said: “We resolve issues every single day by talking to members of the public and reasoning with them and we will continue with this approach.

“However, where necessary and appropriate, we will make use of whatever legislation is available to us in order to protect our communities.

“We hope and expect people will want to support the measures which are in place to ultimately help keep us all safe.”