‘Anyone caught deliberately coughing at emergency workers while claiming to be infected with coronavirus could face up to two years in prison.
People who cough at NHS staff and police officers using Covid-19 ‘as a weapon’ will be charged with common assault by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Assaults against emergency workers can be punished with up to two years in prison, as police are given sweeping powers to enforce Boris Johnson’s lockdown.
Max Hill QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, said: ‘Emergency workers are more essential than ever as society comes together to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
‘I am therefore appalled by reports of police officers and other frontline workers being deliberately coughed at by people claiming to have Covid-19.
‘Let me be very clear: this is a crime and needs to stop.
‘The CPS stands behind emergency and essential workers and will not hesitate to prosecute anybody who threatens them as they go about their vital duties.’
It comes after two suspects were convicted of coronavirus-related crimes yesterday, in the days following Mr Johnson’s unprecedented shutdown.
Darren Rafferty, from Dagenham, east London, admitted three counts of assaulting an emergency worker after claiming to have coronavirus and directing coughs at Met Police officers arresting him for GBH at Barkingside Magistrates’ Court.
The 45-year-old will be sentenced at Snaresbrook Magistrates’ Court next week.’