Gatherings of more than six people at home to be banned again in England amid fears of second coronavirus wave

Jon Stone
·2-min read

The number of people who can legally gather in one house is to be cut from 30 people to six, under new rules for England aimed at stopping a second coronavirus wave.

Birthday parties, dinner guests, and other social gatherings at home are again off the agenda – though the government is still encouraging people to go out and spend money in shops and restaurants.

Boris Johnson will unveil the new regulations on Wednesday following news that new cases are now rising at a rate of nearly 3,000 a day, up from about 1,000 a day for most of August.

Watch: What are the latest rules on social gatherings in England?

A narrow list of exemptions will allow large households and support bubbles, as well as weddings and funerals to continue. The rules will come into effect on Monday, 14 September.

Downing Street confirmed on Tuesday evening that the new measures would apply nationally, indoors and outdoors, and to people of all ages, including in pubs and restaurants.

The police will be given powers to break up and fine anyone who breaks the rules, with £100 fines for a first offence escalating as far as £3,200 for repeat offenders,

The government, chief medical officer and chief scientific advisor are all said to have agreed that the measures are necessary.

The new measure coincides with schools across England reopening this week, which some experts fear may increase community transmission. But with education a priority, the government's medical advisors have previously suggested other parts of the economy or society might have to close down to control the virus and allow learning to resume.

Boris Johnson is expected to tell a press conference on Wednesday: “We need to act now to stop the virus spreading. So we are simplifying and strengthening the rules on social contact – making them easier to understand and for the police to enforce.

Watch the government’s new campaign video which aims to combat coronavirus ahead of winter

“It is absolutely critical that people now abide by these rules and remember the basics – washing your hands, covering your face, keeping space from others, and getting a test if you have symptoms.”

The government is also planning to launch a new public information campaign reminding people to wash their hands and cover their face. The "Hands. Face. Space." adverts will run across TV, radio and print and will also stress the importance of giving people space.

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