Coronavirus restrictions Q&A: What are the new rules on social gatherings?
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The number of people who can attend social gatherings will be slashed to six in England from Monday, following a rise in coronavirus cases across the UK.
Prime minister Boris Johnson will use a press conference today (Wednesday, September 9) to announce the change in the law after the number of daily positive Covid-19 cases in the UK rose to almost 3,000.
What are the new rules?
From Monday, gatherings of more than six people will be illegal due to concerns around the number of daily positive Covid-19 cases in the UK rising to almost 3,000.
Currently, the lawful limit on gatherings is 30 people.
Why are they being introduced?
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The chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, have agreed that the action is needed urgently after the number of positive cases rose steeply.
In a Zoom meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week, police forces said they would like rules on social contact to be simplified.
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Where will they apply to?
The rules will apply across England to all ages and to indoor and outdoor gatherings.
This will include private homes, parks, pubs and restaurants and they will be applied to all ages.
This means that you cannot sit at a pub or restaurant table with more than five friends at any given time, although it is unclear how many “bubbles” that group could be a part of.
Full guidance on what can and cannot happen will be issued later.
Will there be any exemptions?
There will be a few scenarios where the restrictions do not apply, such as if your household or support bubble is larger than six people, or if you are gathering in a large group for the sake of work or education.
Weddings, funerals and organised team sports will also be exempt if they are conducted in a Covid-secure way.
What will the punishments be for breaking the rules?
The government hopes the new rules will make it easier for the police to break up large gatherings.
Failure to stick to the new rules could mean a £100 fine, which will double with every subsequent offence up to £3,200.
What does the prime minister say?
The prime minister will officially announce the new rules at a press conference today (Wednesday, September 9)
He is expected to then tell the public: “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.”
What are the rules in other parts of the UK?
In Scotland, up to eight people are allowed to meet indoors, while groups of 15 from up to five households are permitted outdoors, but people should maintain a social distance.
People there should not meet people from more than four other households in total whether indoors and/or outdoors.
In Wales, up to 30 people can meet outdoors and in Northern Ireland the number is 15.
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