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Boris Johnson has announced a new law limiting social gatherings, meaning that only six people will be allowed to meet up at any one time.
Following a rise in cases of coronavirus over the past few weeks, the prime minister used a press conference on Wednesday to “simplify and intensify” the message, dubbing it the “rule of six”.
The rule change will now make it illegal for any social gatherings of more than six people to take place, either indoors or outdoors, and people can be arrested and fined if they break the law.
As a result of the the law change, a family of six people will not be permitted to meet any other friends or family members.
Anyone seeing groups larger than six, even inside a private home, can legitimately call the police.
Johnson said the new rules will be enforced by the police and anyone breaking them risks being “dispersed, fined and possibly arrested”.
Failure to stick to the new rules could mean a £100 fine, which will double with every subsequent offence up to £3,200.
However, there are a total of 13 exemptions to the new law, which comes into force on Monday.
According to the government website, gatherings of more than six people will be allowed where the household or support bubble is larger than six, or where the gathering is for work or education purposes.
The other exemptions are:
for work, and voluntary or charitable services
for education, training, or registered childcare (including wraparound care)
fulfilling legal obligations such as attending court or jury service
providing emergency assistance, or providing support to a vulnerable person
for you or someone else to avoid illness, injury or harm
participate in children’s playgroups
wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions, or for other religious life-cycle ceremonies – where up to 30 people will be able to attend
funerals – where up to 30 people will be able to attend
organised indoor and outdoor sports, physical activity and exercise classes
youth groups or activities
elite sporting competition or training
protests and political activities organised in compliance with COVID-19 secure guidance and subject to strict risk assessments
Watch: Yahoo UK’s Health Editor, Alexander Thompson explain how coronavirus is treated
Venues where people gather will now be “legally required” to get and keep the contact details of a member of every group for 21 days in order to provide them to NHS test and trace “without delay” if needed.
The hospitality venue could face a fine if it fails to stick to the COVID security standards and the government pledged to back local authorities to make “further and faster use of their powers” against venues who break the rules.
Venues like pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas must have a system in place by law to record contact details of their customers, visitors and staff by 18 September.
A name, a contact number, date of visit, arrival time and – if possible – departure time are among the details which will be needed.
Fines could be handed out if premises fail to collect contact information or book in groups of more than six. Further details on the rules are soon to be announced.
COVID-secure marshals are also set to be introduced to help ensure social distancing in town and city centres.