What you can and cannot do from tomorrow – rule of six explained

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What you can and cannot do from tomorrow - rule of six explained

Last week the government announced that it was changing the coronavirus rules.

These new laws will come into force tomorrow, and how many people you are allowed to meet.

If six or more friends or family members meet up – regardless of whether it is indoors or outdoors – the gathering could be dispersed by police or they may be a £100 fine.

Exemptions include workplaces, schools, universities, places of worship and more.

The rule is being brought in after a surge in Covid-19 cases across the country, with high cases reported in Birmingham, Manchester and Leicester, The Mirror reports.

So what can and can’t you do under the new rules? Here’s what you need to know.

What are the rules in England?

From Monday 14 September, it will be illegal to gather socially in a group of more than six people.

This limit applies to people of all ages including babies – in private homes and gardens; public outdoor spaces like parks; and venues like pubs and restuarants.

Those caught breaking the law will face £100 fines, doubling on each repeat offence up to £3,200.

The six people can be from any number of households, although guidance says people from different households should still socially distance from each other.

If your household or ‘support bubble’ has more than six people, you’re still allowed to be in a group together.

A support bubble is where one single-adult household has joined up exclusively with another household.

There are also exemptions for work, education, places of worship, weddings, funerals, gym classes and more.

The rules are different in Wales and Scotland.

What can you do?

Here are some of the things you can do under the rule of six in England – as long as you don’t also live in one of the local lockdown areas.

You can meet up to five other people – from any number of households

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The legal ban is on more than six people meeting in any one place at the same time.

However, those people can be from any number of households. That bit is actually more relaxed than what the guidance in England said beofre.

You can also have multiple meetings. So you can see four friends on Monday and a different four friends on Tuesday.

You should still remain socially distanced from people not in your household, though, even when meeting up.

You can still live in a big household

Where everyone lives together, the rule of six does not apply. So if you’re in a house of seven people, that is legal.

It also applies if your ‘support bubble’ includes more than six people. This is where two households have joined together and are acting as though they’re one household.

The rules are that one of the two households must contain only one adult; and the bubble must be exclusive. (You can’t be in more than one support bubble).

If you’re going to uni, you’ll be split into “households” according to which floor or flat you’re on in a hall of residence.

You can still go to pubs, cafes and restaurants

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You can go to hospitality venues like pubs and restaurants, but only with up to five other people in your group.

The limit on gatherings only applies to each group meeting in a pub, rather than the entire building.

Pubs will still be able to have dozens of people inside, as long as it’s in a Covid-secure way with social distancing.

But each table won’t be able to have more than six people.

You can go to work and school

There will be a blanket exemption “for work, and voluntary or charitable services”.

There is also an exemption for “education, training, or registered childcare (including wraparound care)”.

This is because schools, unis and workplaces can, at least in theory, be set up in a ‘Covid-secure’ way.

You can send your child to a playgroup

There’ll be an exemption to “participate in children’s playgroups”. They must be done in a Covid-secure way.

Similarly “youth groups or activities” are also allowed.

You can do exercise classes – but not a kickabout

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There’ll be an exemption for “organised indoor and outdoor sports, physical activity and exercise classes”.

This means gym classes will be allowed, as long as they are properly socially distanced.

But a kickabout or five-a-side in the park with your mates is not allowed. The emphasis is on the word “organised” – the league or club you’re playing in must show it’s Covid-secure.

You can hold a small wedding or funeral

There is an exemption for “wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions, or for other religious life-cycle ceremonies”. Likewise, funerals.

At all these events, up to 30 people will be able to attend. But they must be socially distanced and wearing face coverings, and dancing isn’t allowed.

You can go to a protest

There will be exemptions for “protests and political activities organised in compliance with COVID-19 secure guidance and subject to strict risk assessments”.

There needs to be a point of contact for police to speak to.

You can share childcare if you’re divorced

The law will allow an exemption to “continue existing arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents”.

This means kids can divide time between the homes of divorced or separated parents, and be taken to those homes, without the rule of six applying.

You can still use public transport

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The limit on gatherings does not apply to a dozen strangers happening to use the same space at the same time, like a Tube carriage.

You should continue to wear a face covering and stay socially distant from fellow passengers.

You can do all of these other things

Other exemptions to the rule of six will include:

  • Elite sporting competition or training
  • Fulfilling legal obligations such as attending court or jury service
  • Providing emergency assistance, or providing support to a vulnerable person
  • For you or someone else to avoid illness, injury or harm

What can’t you do?

Here are some of the things you  can’t  do under the rule of six in England.

You can’t meet more than five other people at a time

It is illegal to gather socially in a group of more than six people in England.

This limit applies both indoors and outdoors – in private homes and gardens; public outdoor spaces like parks; and venues like pubs and restuarants.

Those caught breaking the law will face £100 fines, doubling on each repeat offence up to £3,200.

You can’t just count children separately

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The ban is on six people meeting in the same place at the same time, of any age.

Children and babies count towards the limit – despite young kids being exempt in Scotland and Wales.

So if you have four children, you can’t take them all to see their grandparents at the same time because that would result in more than six people in the room.

You can’t go rent a cottage with lots of friends

One reader asked if a group of eight from three households can go on holiday, sharing a cottage, in England.

No, they can’t. This would count as a social gathering of eight people and therefore be against the law.

If two people drop out, then the holiday can go ahead as it’ll only be a gathering of six – even if you’re from three households.

You can’t just keep your child off school

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The government suspended fines for absence in the summer, but they have now returned.

Ministers have made clear they want children in school, even if they or their parents were previously shielding.

However, they also say if you’re worried, you should discuss your or your child’s circumstances with your school.

Some children may have specific medical circumstances that mean they can be off.

You can meet your partner from another household (legally) but you can’t have sex (in guidance)

The only legal limit is on meeting in a group of more than six.

However, guidelines – which are not the law, and you can’t get fined for breaking – say you should remain socially distant from anyone in another household.

That means staying two metres apart where possible, or one metre with other measures.

Technically sex or cuddling is against the guidelines, even though it’s not against the law.

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