Social gatherings of more than six people will be banned in England from Monday, the Prime Minister has announced.
New coronavirus legislation is being brought in in a bid to control the virus as new cases rose to almost 3,000 over the last number of days.
On Wednesday, Boris Johnson will set out that any gathering over six people will be illegal, unless it meets one of a limited list of exemptions.
Putting the new, lower limit in law will make it easier for the police to identify and disperse illegal gatherings, the Government claims.
Failure to comply with an officer’s efforts to engage, explain and encourage will result in the enforcement of a £100 fine. This will double on each further repeat offence up to £3,200.
The government, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallancehave jointly agreed that urgent action is necessary after seeing the number of daily positive cases rise to almost 3,000 recently.
The new rules follow a Zoom meeting the Prime Minister had with police forces last week, where officers expressed their desire for rules on social contact to be simplified.
The rules will apply across England, to all ages, to gatherings indoors and outdoors, in private homes, public outdoor spaces and venues such as pubs and restaurants.
The changes will come into effect from Monday and reduce the legal limit on gatherings from 30 at present to six. Legal exemptions to the six-person rule will apply.
These will permit certain gatherings in any number, for example where your household or support bubble is larger than six, or where gatherings are for work or education purposes.
Watch: All the countries on England’s quarantine list
Further exemptions will also apply, such as for weddings, funerals, and organised team sports in a Covid Secure way.
The full list of exemptions will be published on gov.uk before the law changes.
At a press conference on Wednesday, the Prime Minister is expected to say: “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.
“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 rise in UK cases is following a similar pattern to other European countries. Increasing infection rates are causing rising hospitalisations in Spain and France, and deaths in Spain are now rising too.
A new public information campaign will also launch tomorrow to highlight how everyone can help stop the spread of the virus by remembering to wash their hands, cover their face and make space.
‘Hands. Face. Space’ will run across TV, radio, print, out of home, social and digital display advertising, with a new video being released to show exactly how coronavirus spreads indoors.
With people expected to spend more time inside during the winter, the film – produced with the help of scientific experts – encourages the public to follow simple steps to reduce the risk of infection.