The new coronavirus ‘rule of six’ comes into effect today - here are the regulations across the UK

Monday, 14th September 2020, 12:33 pm
Updated Monday, 14th September 2020, 12:43 pm
New rules regarding how many people can meet in a group come into force today in England, Scotland and Wales (Photo: Shutterstock)

New rules regarding how many people can meet in a group come into force today in England, Scotland and Wales.

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The UK government and devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales have reduced the number of people allowed to gather for social occasions to six in a bid to curb the rise in new coronavirus infections.

Northern Ireland announced a six person, two household limit on indoor gatherings on 24 August, which was a reduction from its previous restriction of 10 people from four households.

These are the new rules - and the exemptions.

Rule of six

The new ‘rule of six’ means that social gatherings of more than six people in England, Scotland and Wales will not be allowed, bar some exceptions.

England

When meeting friends and family you do not live with you must not meet in a group of more than 6, either indoors or outdoors.

This new rule applies to people of all ages in private homes, both indoors and outdoors, alongside pubs, restaurants, cafes and public outdoor spaces.

The rule of six does not apply to schools, workplaces, weddings, funerals and organised team sports in England.

Those who ignore the new rules in England could be fined £100, which will double with each offence to a maximum of £3,200, and groups larger than six can be broken up by police.

Covid marshals will also be brought into place in England to enforce social distancing in city centres.

The government has said marshals can either be volunteers or existing council staff members.

In areas where marshals have already been introduced, they have done things such as giving out hand sanitiser and face coverings, alongside answering questions and explaining social distancing guidelines to members of the public.

Marshals do not have the power to enforce social distancing restrictions or to issue fines to those who break the rules, but the government has said they can call the police if enforcement action is needed.

Wales

In Wales, the rule of six only applies to indoors, with people still allowed to meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors.

Meetings or gatherings indoors within an extended household must be limited to six people at any one time. However, the rules don’t apply to children aged 11 and under.

The First Minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford, said: “We've known for a long time that the virus does not travel between people in the fresh air in the way that it does inside houses.

“We want to continue to make that distinction so that, in the remainder of this autumn, while the weather will still allow people to get together in the open air, we don't want to prevent people from doing that.”

Fixed penalty notices for flouting the rules can be issued, carrying a fine of £60 for a first offence.

This is then increased to £120 for a second offence and continues to be doubled for repeated offences, up to a maximum of £1,920.

Scotland

In Scotland, a maximum of six people from two households can meet. However, this new rule does not apply to those aged 12 and under.

Alongside this, the restrictions do not apply where there is other sector specific guidance in force, for example for gyms, for childcare or for organised sports.

There will also be some other limited exceptions for larger households, education, and places of worship.

However, the rules apply to hospitality.

With regards to weddings and funerals in Scotland Gov.scot explains, “up to 20 people will still be able to attend funerals, weddings and civil partnerships ceremonies, with the limit permitted for wakes and receptions rising to 20 in line with this, as long as they take place in regulated venues like hotels with strict guidance in place.”

On-the-spot fines of £60 can be issued by police, which will be reduced to £30 if paid within 28 days.

However, if a person has already received a fixed penalty notice, then the amount will increase to £120 and double for further repeat offences up to £960.