The new social distancing rules, as gatherings of more than six people are banned in England



What about social distancing?

The “two household” rule, which allowed up to 30 people from two different homes to meet up, has been scrapped so that all family and social gatherings of more than six people, both indoors and outdoors, will be illegal under the “rule of six” in England.

The Government explained that “when meeting friends and family you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) you must not meet in a group of more than six, indoors or outdoors.

“This is against the law and the police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notices) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200.”

Weddings, funerals, Covid-secure team sports, schools, workplaces and households or “support bubbles” that have more than six people in them will all be exempt. 

The Government said people should “stay two metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or one metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors)”.

What about pubs? 

Venues where people meet socially, such as pubs and restaurants, will now be legally required to request contact details of every member of a party and retain the information for 21 days. Fines of £1,000 could be levied against hospitality venues if they fail to comply. 

Additionally opening hours of some venues could be restricted in some local areas. It comes after hospitality venues in Bolton were required to close between 10pm and 5am.

Pubs and restaurants etc can have more than six people in them, but they must not be in individual groups of more than six.

“Covid-secure marshals” will be introduced to help ensure social distancing in town and city centres in a bid to improve the enforcement capacity of local authorities 

Read more: Could pubs close again?

When could social distancing end?

On September 9 the Prime Minister promised that the Government will work “round the clock” and that the UK will “beat this virus before too long”.

However Boris Johnson admitted “it is just too early to say” where the UK will be by Christmas. 

The Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, clarified that the new restrictions are “not a very short-term thing” and it is hard to put an exact time limit on them.

Furthermore, scientists have cautioned that predicting an end to social distancing is difficult and depends on how much the one-metre rule influences the R number. Scientists also argue that the UK would need an effective test and trace system before social distancing could be lifted.



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