Rule of six

The rule of six – what is and isn’t allowed under new coronavirus restrictions.

Corona-confused? You are not alone. Here's a lowdown on what is and isn't allowed under the new restrictions imposed this week.

The last few months have not been easy for any of us. But just when we thought things were going the right way towards normality, Boris jumps back in with his new rule of six. 

Trouble is: the new restrictions, which came into effect on Monday, September 14,  are a little confusing, all over the place, jumbled up, and, well, simply causing us all to feel a little discombobulated. 

Lockdown was hard but at least we knew what, where, and when. We knew what was and wasn’t allowed and it was fairly easy to follow. We definitely do not want to find ourselves back in a nationwide lockdown, so is this new “rule of six” – bought in by the government this week – the answer?

According to government advice: “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.”

But some would say this is not the case, as confusion mounts over what is and isn’t allowed under these new coronavirus restrictions? We break it down. 

What is the rule of six?

The rule of six prohibits social gatherings of more than six people – indoors or outdoors. 

In simple terms: any social gathering of more than six people will be against the law. And police have the power to disperse such gatherings and impose a £100 fine on anyone who is caught flouting these restrictions. 

Got it, right. But hang on. There are some “limited” exceptions to the rule, including work and education settings. 

What are the basics?

  • The rule of six applies to everyone across England. (There are different rules for those living in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.)
  • It replaces the existing ban on participating in gatherings of more than 30.
  • And the current guidance on allowing two households to meet indoors.
  • The six people meeting – in any setting indoors or outdoors – can be from any number of households

What are the exceptions to the rule?

  • 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. 
  • It also doesn’t apply to gatherings for weddings (which is now reduced to 15), and funerals (currently up to 30) organised in a Covid-19 secure way. 
  • Venues such as places of worship, 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. And under new restrictions recently bought in all pubs and restaurants must close by 10pm and offer a sit down service only. 
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Why the rule of six now? 

The government has introduced these new laws to call on the public to remain vigilant in the fight against coronavirus as daily infection rates continue to soar. The Government, Chief Medical Officer, and Chief Scientific Advisor all agreed that urgent action was necessary to stop the virus spreading and to continue to protect the NHS.

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 (14 Sept) 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 to participate in social gatherings of more than six people in any setting, indoors or outdoors.”

Under new laws, organisers and facilitators of larger gatherings of more than 30 people – such as the recent bout of illegal raves – can be fined up to £10,000. And all attendees could be forced to pay a £100 fine. 

According to Gov.uk: “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.”

Hands, Face, Space 

The government’s basic message of Hands, Face and Space is still at the forefront of all coronavirus communication.

The guidance of meeting with others safely is underpinned by:

  • 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

  • Self isolating if you show any of the main symptoms of coronavirus

How do you feel about the rule of six restrictions?

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