The maximum fine for repeated breaches of the coronavirus lockdown rules in Wales has risen from £120 to £1,920.
The increased fines are being introduced ahead of the bank holiday weekend and come into force from Friday May 22nd.
Mark Drakeford's decision not to increase the minimum fine to parity with England had been criticised as a 'fudge' by two of Wales Police and Crime Commissioners.
Previously, fines in Wales began at £60, and increased to £120 if people had already received a fixed penalty notice.
Fines in England start at £100 and can reach up to £3,200 for repeat offenders.
In Wales, lockdown regulations state that people must exercise locally.
The rules in England however have been relaxed to allow people to drive to other destinations to exercise and meet one person outside of their household.
The Welsh Government evidence from the four police forces show a small minority of people are breaking the coronavirus regulations, particularly by traveling to well-known beauty spots throughout Wales, even though they have been closed since the end of March.
Announcing the changes to the fines structure, which come into force on Friday, First Minister, Mark Drakeford said: “I am very grateful to the chief constables and our Police and Crime Commissioners for all the work they have done to keep Wales safe throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“Fines are a last resort in the enforcement of the regulations which keep us all safe.
“The evidence from the chief constables and Police and Crime Commissioners shows we need a stronger fines structure to deter that small minority of people who persistently fail to keep to the rules.”
Evidence from the four police forces and Police and Crime Commissioners shows more than 1,300 fixed penalty notices have been issued since the lockdown restrictions were introduced at the end of March.
The existing fines structure, which imposed a £60 fine for a first offence rising to £120 for a second and subsequent offences, will be replaced by a new structure in which the fines double for every offence – rising from £60 to £120 to £1,920 for the sixth offence.
Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price MS said: “After weeks of pressure from Wales’ police chiefs and Plaid Cymru, the Labour Welsh Government have finally seen sense and raised the maximum fines for those breaking lockdown rules in Wales from £120 to £1,920.
“This latest U-turn from the government is a victory for common sense and to the perseverance of our police forces who are doing heroic work in protecting our communities during this crisis.
“However, the decision not to raise the minimum fines in parity with England as requested by the All Wales Policing Group remains bitterly regrettable.
Paul Davies MS – the Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament – said: “This step is long overdue.
“We are surprised, however, that the First Minister chose to once again make a policy U-turn to the media rather than to the Welsh Parliament. He is clearly scared of scrutiny."