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Rule of six law starts today - here are all the new rules

PUBLISHED: 08:07 14 September 2020 | UPDATED: 13:40 14 September 2020

Health Secretary Matt Hancock giving a statement to MPs in the House of Commons. Picture PA Wire.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock giving a statement to MPs in the House of Commons. Picture PA Wire.

From today the number of people who can attend social gatherings across England is being slashed to just six following a rise in coronavirus cases across the country.

NHS staff have been praised for their dedication during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Chris BishopNHS staff have been praised for their dedication during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Chris Bishop

The new rules come into force following an announcement about a change in the law by prime minister Boris Johnson last week after the number of daily positive Covid-19 cases in the UK rose to almost 3,000.

The introduction of the new law in Norfolk comes despite the county having its place on the government’s coronavirus watchlist downgraded following a decrease in the rate of infection here,

Following the
outbreak at Banham Poultry, which saw more than 100 members of staff test positive for the virus, Norfolk was classified as an area of enhanced support in response.

This meant that the county would be given priority for extra testing capacity, faster responses to tests and additional support from public health experts.

However, after the county’s infection rate slowed to beneath the national average, the government announced last week that Norfolk’s status had been de-escalated to an area “of concern”.

Coronavirus COVID-19 swabs from patients are kept in plastic sealed tubs as lab technicians carry out a diagnostic test for coronavirus in the microbiology laboratory inside the Specialist Virology Centre at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.Coronavirus COVID-19 swabs from patients are kept in plastic sealed tubs as lab technicians carry out a diagnostic test for coronavirus in the microbiology laboratory inside the Specialist Virology Centre at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

Nevertheless everyone in Norfolk, like elsewhere in England, will have to abide by new rules which come into force today (Monday, September 14).

But what are the new rules and what do they mean?

Social contact

A sign which would normally advertise events at Hunstanton now carries a coronavirus warning  Picture: Chris BishopA sign which would normally advertise events at Hunstanton now carries a coronavirus warning Picture: Chris Bishop

From Monday (September 14) there will be a legal limit on the number of people you don’t live with you are able to meet. When meeting with people you don’t live with you can socialise in groups of up to six.

You should continue to maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with.

Are children counted in the group of six?

Postwick park and ride coronavirus test centre. Picture: Mike PagePostwick park and ride coronavirus test centre. Picture: Mike Page

Yes.

Can I stay overnight in someone else’s home?

Yes, you can stay overnight in someone else’s home. But from September 14 there will be a new legal limit on the gathering sizes which will mean that you may only stay overnight in someone else’s home if you do not form a group of more than six people. This limit does not apply if you are in a support bubble with the person whose home you are staying in.

People in the same support bubble can stay overnight with each other in larger groups as they count as one household.

Can I look after my grandchildren?

Yes. People in groups of up to six can meet indoors or outdoors, which enables you to spend time with grandchildren. Although you should try to maintain social distance from people you do not live with wherever possible, it may not always be practicable to do so when providing care to a young child or infant. If this is this case - and where young children may struggle to keep social distance – you should still limit close contact as much as possible, and take other precautions such as washing hands and clothes regularly.

If you have formed a support bubble with your grandchildren’s household, which is allowed if either you or they live in a ‘single adult household’, then there can be close contact and social distancing is not necessary.

Is there a limit on the number of people attending funerals?

The new legal gatherings limit of six people which will apply and come into force from September 14 does not apply to funerals. Relevant premises will limit capacity based on how many people it can safely accommodate with social distancing in place, and it is advised funerals are limited to a maximum of 30 people.

Can weddings go ahead?

Yes, wedding ceremonies, civil partnerships and receptions (sit down meals in COVID-19 Secure venues) are allowed to take place. The new legal gatherings limit of six people which will apply and come into force from 14 September does not apply to weddings, civil partnerships and receptions.

When can I gather in groups of more than six?

If you live in a household with more than six people, you can continue to gather in and attend all settings together. This same applies for your support bubbles. All venues should continue to accomodate groups larger than six who live together or are in the same support bubble to gather in and use their services and venues.

There will be exceptions where groups can be larger than six people, including:

- where everyone lives together or is in the same support bubble, or to continue existing arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents

- for work, and voluntary or charitable services

- for education, training, or registered childcare (including wraparound care)

- 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

- participate in children’s playgroups

- wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions, or for other religious life-cycle ceremonies – where up to 30 people will be able to attend

- funerals – where up to 30 people will be able to attend

- organised indoor and outdoor sports, physical activity and exercise classes (see the list of recreational team sports, outdoor sport and exercise allowed under the gyms and leisure centre guidance)

- 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

Does this mean that no more than six people can be in a pub or restaurant at once?

Venues following COVID-19 Secure guidelines can host more than six people in total, but no one should visit in a group of greater than six. When you visit one of these places, such as a pub, shop, leisure venue, restaurant or place of worship you should:

- follow the limits on the number of other people you should meet with as a group (it will be illegal to be in group of more than six from outside of your household)

- avoid social interaction with anyone outside the group you are with, even if you see other people you know

- provide your contact details to the organiser so that you can be contacted if needed by the NHS Test and Trace programme

Can I have a celebration for significant or ceremonial life events, other than weddings?

More than six people are permitted to attend the ceremonies for certain significant life events, such as christenings, baptisms, and bar mitzvahs. However, celebratory receptions of up to 30 people are only permitted for weddings and civil partnerships. It remains important to limit the number of large social gatherings at this time given the significant risk of transmission. If you are attending other types of ceremonies, you should minimise your social interaction with others, and always keep your distance from people you do not live with (or who are in your support bubble).

Can I see my partner / boyfriend / girlfriend if I do not live with them? Do we have to socially distance?

Yes. People in an established relationship do not need to socially distance. If in the early stages of a relationship, you should take particular care to follow the guidance on social distancing. If you intend to have close contact with someone, you should discuss how you can help to prevent risks of transmission as a couple, for example, by ensuring you are both avoiding close contact with people you do not live with.

How will the new rules on gatherings be enforced?

These rules will become law on Monday (September 14). Police are able to enforce these legal limts and anyone breaking them could face a fine (fixed penalty notice) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200.

Later this month, businesses will also be required to ensure there are no unlawful gatherings in their premises. Anyone organising a gathering (such as a rave or house party) of more than 30 could face a £10,000 fine.

Can I gather in a group of more than six for childcare?

There is an exemption to the legal gatherings limit which comes into force on September 14 for the purposes of formal childcare provided by a registered provider. Family and friends can also provide informal childcare as long as groups from different households don’t exceed six people. Youth groups, wraparound childcare, including settings not formally registered (such as those providing after school clubs, breakfast clubs, sports clubs), and other children’s groups will also be allowed to continue.

Can I pray in a place of worship?

Yes, places of worship will stay open for services and communal prayer in line with guidance for reopening Places of Worship.

Places of worship can stay open for services for more than six people. However individual groups of more than one household or support bubble must not exceed six people.

Can I go to a pub or restaurant with people I don’t live with?

When eating or drinking out with people you do not live with (and who are not in your support bubble), you should keep to the wider rules on group sizes: you must only attend these places in groups of up to six people. You can attend in larger numbers with the people you live with/who are in your support bubble.

In all cases, people from different households should ensure they socially distance as much as possible. You should think about where to sit at a table with this in mind – the premises should also take reasonable steps to help you do so in line with COVID-19 Secure guidelines. It remains the case that you do not need to maintain social distancing with those in your support bubble. This change also does not affect the support you receive from your carers.

Can I go to the theatre or a concert?

You can now attend indoor and outdoor performances, for example dramatic, musical or comedy shows.

If you are watching the performance, you should:

- sit with people from your household or support bubble

- socially distance from people you do not live with (or who are not in your support bubble)

When will I be able to go to a football match?

The government will review plans to pilot larger audiences in venues this month; planned events will be limited to smaller, safer numbers, with strict conditions to ensure social distancing, and will not take place in areas where incidence is high.

The intention to return audiences to stadia from October 1 will also be reviewed, as set out in the government’s plan.

Can I play sport outside? Does this now need to be limited to six people?

You can play team sport in any number if this is formally organised by a sports club or similar organisation and sports-governing body guidance has been issued. You should only be playing team sports where the relevant governing body has published guidance on how to do so safely. Team sports that do not have approved guidance should not be played if you cannot socially distance from people you do not live with. Instead, people should train together and take part in activities such as conditioning or fitness sessions in groups of no more than six people (outdoors).

When playing sports informally with people you don’t live with, you must limit the size of your group to six. It will be illegal to do so in a larger group from Monday (September 14).

Do I have to wear a face covering in public?

Face coverings are currently mandatory on public transport, and in shops, supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, banks, building societies, post offices, and indoor transport hubs.

You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes (but is not limited to):

- children under 11

- because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability

- to communicate with someone who relies on lip reading

- to avoid harm or injury; to identify yourself

- to eat or drink if necessary

• How will these changes affect you? Let us know in the comments below or email newsdesk@archant.co.uk


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