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‘Rule of Six’ comes into effect with offenders fined up to £3,200

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From today, social gatherings of more than six people – whether indoors or out – will be illegal. Offenders risk being fined up to £3,200. But here’s what you can and can’t do.

Last week the government introduced its new ‘Rule of Six’ overriding previous laws and guidelines in England on the number of people who can meet.

It comes after England witnessed a spike in coronavirus cases, and the new rules aim to stem the spread of the disease.

Under the new law, anyone meeting family or friends who they don’t live with, must restrict numbers to a maximum of six people, indoors or outdoors, such as in homes, parks, pubs and restaurants. In England, children are counted within the number.

Unless a household or support bubble has more than six people, the police will have powers to fine offenders £100, doubling for each breach up to a maximum of £3,200.

Anyone found to organise or facilitate larger gatherings of more than 30 people – such as illegal raves – can still be fined of up to £10,000.

Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said: “Across the country, we have all made enormous sacrifices in the fight against coronavirus. However, the recent rise in cases makes it clear that more needs to be done to stop the spread of this disease.

“From Monday new laws will enable the police to fine anyone in breach of the rule of six. As we continue to fight this virus, I urge the public not participate in social gatherings of more than six people in any setting, indoors or outdoors.”

Exceptions to the ‘Rule of Six’

The government lists the following as exceptions where people can meet in groups larger than six:

  • Where everyone lives together or is in the same support bubble, or where children don’t live in the same household as both their parents
  • Work, voluntary or charitable services
  • for education, training, registered childcare, or providers offering before or after-school clubs for children
  • Attending court or jury service
  • Providing emergency assistance, or helping a vulnerable person
  • For you or someone else to avoid illness, injury or harm
  • 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
  • Restaurants and hospitality venues can cater for more than six people, though no individual group can be larger than six.

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