Social gatherings of more than six people in England will become illegal from Monday 14 September.
The new rule applies to people of all ages and will ban larger groups meeting anywhere socially indoors or outdoors. This includes gatherings in private homes, indoors and outdoors, and places such as pubs, restaurants, cafes and public outdoor spaces.
The government guidance states it will be “against the law to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than 6 (unless you are meeting as a household or support bubble)”.
The rule does not apply to schools, workplaces, COVID-secure weddings, funerals and organised team sports.
Failure to follow the new rule can result in a fine of £100. This figure can be doubled with each offence, up to a maximum of £3,200.
The move comes as the government responds to the steep rise in new coronavirus cases. It marks a significant clampdown on the current rules, which allow two households of any size to meet indoors or outdoors, or up to six people from different households outdoors. Until now, the police have also had no powers to stop gatherings unless they exceeded 30.
On the new rules, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Gatherings are ok, they should be socially distanced of course, but groups only of up to six.”
“I have three children. We have a family of five. And so we’ll be able to see one other person at a time, as a whole family.”
Mr Hancock also said the rules would be in place for the “foreseeable future” and that he “really hopes we can turn this round before Christmas.”
The Government has stated groups can be larger than 6 people and exempt from the new rules in scenarios such as:
- Where people live together or are in the same support bubble
- To continue existing arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents
- Places of work, and voluntary or charitable services
- Education, training and registered childcare settings or providers offering before or after-school clubs for children
- Meeting legal obligations such as attending court or jury service
- To provide emergency assistance or support to a vulnerable person
- Avoiding illness, injury or harm
- Participating in children’s playgroups
- COVID-secure wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions, funerals or for other religious life-cycle ceremonies, where up to 30 people are 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