Boris Johnson has confirmed that gatherings of more than six people will become illegal in England starting from Monday.
Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, the Prime Minister said the government had decided to ‘simplify and strengthen’ the coronavirus rules for everyone to follow. He said this would also help police officers to enforce the restrictions.
He then went on to announce the ‘rule of six’, preventing people from meeting up with more than six people at any one time outside of the household. He emphasised that in order to ‘beat the virus’, everyone should be limiting their social contact with other households ‘as much as possible’.
Households and support bubbles of more than six people will be exempt from the restrictions, he added, while weddings and funerals will be allowed to go ahead with no more than 30 people in attendance.
Johnson also stated that places of worship, gyms, restaurants and hospitality venues are allowed to have more than six people inside the building in total, but each individual group must be no larger than six.
The PM went on: ‘You must not meet socially in groups of more than six and if you do, you will be breaking the law. This will apply in any setting indoors or outdoors, at home or in the park.
‘The ban will be set out in law and it will be enforced by the police, and anyone breaking the rules risks being dispersed, fined, and possibly arrested.’
Johnson added that the rule would be kept under ‘constant review’ and only kept in place for as long as ‘necessary’.
He said: ‘I also want to see, and the public wants to see, stronger enforcement of the rules which are already in place. I have tasked the cabinet with increasing enforcement and I would like to thank the police, as always, and other authorities for the work they are doing to keep us all safe.
‘In future, premises and venues where people meet socially will be legally required to request the contact details of a member of every party, record and retain these details for 21 days, and provide them to NHS Test and Trace without delay when required.
‘We will support local authorities to make further and faster use of their powers to close venues that are breaking the rules and pose a risk to public health. Fines will be levied against hospitality venues that fail to ensure their premises remain covid-secure.’
Johnson said covid-secure marshals would also be introduced in town and city centres by setting up a register of environmental health officers which local authorities can ‘draw upon for support’.
He added that passenger locator forms will also be simplified for those arriving in the UK, and stated that Border Force would be ‘stepping up enforcement efforts’ to ensure all arrivals comply with quarantine rules.
The PM concluded his announcement by saying: ‘I want to be absolutely clear. These measures are not another national lockdown. The whole point of them is to avoid a second national lockdown.’
Earlier during the press conference, England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty demonstrated how the rate of confirmed coronavirus cases had changed across the UK.
He demonstrated how numbers had dropped since April, but were now starting to increase again and ‘much more rapidly’ in the past few days.
Professor Whitty noted that the rate remained ‘quite flat’ in older people and younger children, with people aged 20 to 29 and 30 to 39 seeing the most rapid spreading of infection.
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