Rule of six comes into effect to tackle coronavirus Image by Philip Steury AdobeStock_332281171.jpg

Police able to disperse gatherings of over six people and fine individuals involved

New laws prohibiting social gatherings of more than six people come into effect today (Monday 14 September) as the Government calls on the public to remain vigilant in the fight against coronavirus.

A Home Office statement claims that the new “rule of six” simplifies and strengthens the rules on social gatherings, making them easier to understand and easier for the police to enforce.

The “rule of six” means that – apart from a set of limited exemptions including work and education – any social gatherings of more than six people will be against the law.

Police will be able to disperse any such gatherings and fine individuals involved £100, doubling up to a maximum of £3,200.

Bedfordshire Police Chief Superintendent John Murphy said:

“The government regulations on Covid-19 changed on Monday, which means that there are new limits on social gatherings in place.

“Meeting socially in groups of more than six is now unlawful. Our preference will always be to engage with people, explain the regulations and encourage them to comply. In most situations, we can resolve incidents without having to issue a fine.

“Our conventional policing demands are now back to pre-Covid levels. It is even more important that we all take personal responsibility for limiting the spread of this virus, so that police resources can be used in the most appropriate way.

“If you need to report a breach of the new regulations, please do so via our online reporting tool, so we can keep our phone lines available for emergencies.”

[police statement added 14:40 15/9/2020]

Home Secretary Priti Patel held a call with Chief Constables to support police enforcement of the law. Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

“Across the country, we have all made enormous sacrifices in the fight against coronavirus. However, the recent rise in cases makes it clear that more needs to be done to stop the spread of this disease.

“From Monday new laws will enable the police to fine anyone in breach of the rule of six. As we continue to fight this virus, I urge the public not participate in social gatherings of more than six people in any setting, indoors or outdoors.”

The change follows a rapid increase in the number of daily positive cases. The Government, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor agreed that urgent action was necessary to stop the virus spreading and continue to protect the NHS.

The rule applies across England and replaces the existing ban on participating in gatherings of more than 30 and the current guidance on allowing two households to meet indoors.

Now the only rule that people need to remember is to not participate in social gatherings of more than six people in any setting, indoors or outdoors.

It remains the case that organisers and facilitators of larger gatherings of more than 30 people (such as unlicensed music events) can be subject to fines of up to £10,000.

The police will continue their tried and tested approach of engaging with the public, explaining the rules, encouraging gatherings to disperse, but will be empowered to enforce the rules and issue fines where needed.

Exemptions include cases where a single household or support bubble is larger than six people.

The rule also does not apply to gatherings for work or education purposes, and to other gatherings including weddings, funerals, and team sports organised in a COVID-19 secure way.

Venues following COVID-19 secure guidelines, such as places of worships, gyms, restaurants and other hospitality venues, can still hold more than six people in total.

But within those venues, there must not be individual groups larger than six, and groups must not mix socially or form larger groups.

The rule will be kept under constant review and will only remain in place as long as is necessary.

The most important thing everyone can do is remember the basics: Hands. Face. Space.

Everyone should continue to follow guidance on:

  • Washing your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
  • Wearing a face covering in settings where it is required and where it is difficult to maintain social distancing
  • Staying 2 metres apart from people you do not live with or 1 metre with extra precautions, such as a face covering

View the full list of exemptions.