Under 12s will remain part of the new “rule of six” which limits the number of people who can meet up, Michael Gove has said.
From Monday, it will become illegal to gather in groups of more than six people in England except for certain situations, as authorities try to get a grip on the sharp rise in newly recorded coronavirus infections.
It was hoped England may exempt children from this as they’ve done in Wales and Scotland but cabinet office minister Gove has said this will not happen.
He said the inclusion of under 12s was “absolutely right” and the new restrictions were "well-understood" and supported by the public.
The government has faced some push back from Conservative backbenchers over the new rules who suggested some children be exempt.
Gove told Radio 4 on Saturday morning: "As ever, the important thing is balance - eating out, seeing friends - that is fine, provided we do so in a way that is socially responsible, that's what the Rule of Six is about."
He added: "So therefore, a clear message - as simple as possible - makes it easier for all of us to do what is helpful to others."
In an interview with BBC Breakfast Gove also reminded the public of their responsibilities after concerns were raised over people having a “party weekend” before the new rules come into force next week.
New measures banning people from mixing in homes and gardens will be imposed on Birmingham, Solihull and Sandwell from Tuesday in response to a rocketing infection rate in the area.
John Apter, of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “There is a real risk some members of the public will take advantage of the current situation and treat this weekend as a party weekend ahead of the tighter restrictions being introduced on Monday.”
Gove added: “These rules and regulations are there for our protection, but also for the protection of the most vulnerable in society.”
He warned fines could be used to enforce the rules if necessary.
Coronavirus cases in the UK have risen to the highest level since mid-May, with a total of 3,539 new cases recorded on Friday.
It is the highest daily figure since May 17 and Public Health England’s medical director Professor Yvonne Doyle warned it is a reminder of the “ongoing risk as the virus spreads throughout the UK”.
The figure rose sharply from 2,919 the previous day and most cases are people who have been tested in the community.
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