Asked if two families of four stopping for a chat on their way to the park would be in breach of the “Rule of Six,” the Home Secretary said: ?“It’s mingling, I think it is absolutely mingling but you have to put this into context of coronavirus, and keeping distance and wearing masks…
“The rule of six is about making sure people are being conscientious and are not putting other people’s health at risk. People can exercise their own judgement, wear masks, social distancing etcetera.”
Watch: What is the new ‘Rule of six’?
College of Policing guidance issued on Monday night to police warned that mingling is only allowed within a single household or between two “linked” households where they have formed a support bubble.
Ms Patel added: "Mingling is people coming together. That is my definition of mingling."
She also indicated she would report her neighbours if they broke the rules. Asked if she would report the for Rule of Six breaches, she said: “If I thought I saw something that was inappropriate, I would call the police, in a social setting as well.
“It’s not about dobbing in the neighbours, it’s about taking personal responsibility. If there was a big party taking place, it would be right to call the police.
“Anyone that is effectively defying the rules, they will be helping to spread coronavirus. That is not a good thing and obviously we all have a role to play.
“We're all taking personal responsibility, we all have to be conscientious to one another.”
It followed similar appeals on Monday by Kit Malthouse, the policing minister, who said people should contact police if they saw their neighbours failing to comply with the new coronavirus restrictions.
Breaches of the new law carry a fine of £100 which can rise to £3,200 for persistent rule-breaking.
However, policing chiefs have voiced concerns that officers will be distracted from fighting crime by “snitchers.”
Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation which represents rank-and-file officers, said: 'We have not got a never ending pot of officers, they will be distracted by curtain twitchers – people phoning up saying I've seen seven people in next door's garden.'
Mr Marsh said the new rules were a 'perfect storm' for police amid a rise in crime levels and protests.
John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said he understood the Government faced a “very fast-moving” and complicated situation.
“But my colleagues who are on the front line trying to interpret this law, trying to educate and work with the public, are now being accused of asking (people) to snitch on their neighbours,” he added.
He also said the community needed to manage its expectations of police in enforcing the new rule. “We do not have loads of extra police officers. We’re already trying to manage increasing demand. We’re not going to be able to attend every call.”