It's now illegal to 'mingle': New 'rule of six' coronavirus law unveiled

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·2-min read

Watch: What are the latest rules on meeting people in the UK?

  • New coronavirus law makes it illegal to “mingle” with people outside your own group gathering

  • Human rights barrister says rule will be “nigh on impossible to enforce”

  • It’s part of new “rule of six” coronavirus legislation introduced in England on Monday

  • Visit the Yahoo homepage for more stories

The government has banned “mingling” under its new “rule of six” coronavirus law.

The latest rules state people that cannot “mingle” with others outside their designated social gathering.

The law offers no definition of what “mingling” means in legal terms, prompting one leading human rights lawyer to claim it will be “nigh on impossible to enforce”.

The new coronavirus law was published late on Sunday night, half an hour before the “rule of six” – which bans most indoor and outdoor social gatherings of more than six people in England – came into force.

However, a list of exceptions were also published. It means more than six people are allowed to meet in indoor settings “operated by a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or a public body”, or at outdoor events organised by “a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution, a public body, or a political body”.

But those attending such gatherings must be part of a “qualifying group” of up to six people, a single household or linked households.

Furthermore, no person is allowed to become a member of another group or “otherwise mingle” with anyone outside their own group, according to the legislation.

With no other reference to “mingle” or “mingling” in the legislation, it prompted human rights barrister Adam Wagner to ask: “What does mingle mean?

People enjoy their drinks at the beer garden of the Forester pub in London, Saturday, July 4, 2020. England is embarking on perhaps its biggest lockdown easing yet as pubs and restaurants have the right to reopen for the first time in more than three months. In addition to the reopening of much of the hospitality sector, couples can tie the knot once again, while many of those who have had enough of their lockdown hair can finally get a trim. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
'Mingling' is now illegal under the government's latest coronavirus law. (AP)

“Is saying hello to someone at a gathering ‘mingling’? What about holding the door open for them?”

He said the rules in these settings will be “nigh on impossible to enforce”.

Later, Downing Street said the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) will set out guidance for officers on how to respond to unlawful mingling.

Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “The NPCC will set out guidance for police forces, but police are used to using their discretion in upholding the law and I’m sure that’s what they will do in this case.”

Watch: Yahoo UK health correspondent Alexandra Thompson explain how coronavirus is treated

Under the new law, people face fines of £100, doubling to a maximum of £3,200 for repeat offences, for breaching the law which bans social gatherings of more than six people both indoors and outdoors.

It was introduced in response to the recent rise in coronavirus cases following the gradual lifting of lockdown over the summer.

Some 3,330 new COVID-19 infections were confirmed in the UK on Sunday.

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