Life under the Rule of Six: What Britons can and can't do as new Covid ...

Britons are today facing curtailments on their freedom as England is subjected to draconian new coronavirus restrictions amid a spike in infections. 

Boris Johnson sent shockwaves around the country last week as he announced a ban on groups of more than six people from meeting, in what he dubbed a 'rule of six'.

Ahead of the new restrictions, Brits hit pubs, parks and beaches at the weekend for one last knees-up with friends and family. 

The stringent ban comes into force across England today, in an attempt to tackle rising coronavirus infection rates by restricting meetings both indoors and outdoors, including homes, parks, pubs and restaurants. 

An army of 'Covid secure marshals' will patrol the streets, clamping down on barbecues, book clubs, picnics and pub lunches if they see more than six people together. 

The marshals can call police who will fine people up to £3,200 if they disobey the rules.

Similar rules will apply in Wales, though groups of 30 can still meet outdoors, while Nicola Sturgeon has said she cannot rule out changing the number of people allowed to gather together in Scotland. 

Here, we outline exactly what the new restrictions mean for those living in England...   

Boris Johnson sent shockwaves around the country last week as he announced a ban on groups of more than six people from meeting, in what he dubbed a 'rule of six'

Boris Johnson sent shockwaves around the country last week as he announced a ban on groups of more than six people from meeting, in what he dubbed a 'rule of six'

Ahead of the new restrictions, Brits hit pubs, parks and beaches at the weekend for one last knees-up with friends and family. Pictured, People enjoy a drink outside a pub in Camden yesterday

Ahead of the new restrictions, Brits hit pubs, parks and beaches at the weekend for one last knees-up with friends and family. Pictured, People enjoy a drink outside a pub in Camden yesterday

What are the basics? 

No more than six people will be permitted to gather in England - with a few exceptions, which include going to school, work, or 'exceptional life events'.

Breaking these new restrictions will mean fines of £100, doubling for each incident up to £3,200. 

The law has been different to the official 'guidance' since July 4, which has been a source of confusion among some. Now, official rules are closer - yet not entirely in sync - with the state's advice. 

What are the rules in other parts of Britain?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she cannot rule out changing the number of people allowed to gather together in Scotland as the average number of daily positive cases has trebled in three weeks.

A maximum of eight people from three households can currently meet indoors in Scotland, except in areas subject to tighter restrictions, while up to 15 people from five households can meet outside.

In Wales, up to 30 people can meet outdoors and in Northern Ireland the number is 15.

People in Wales will only be able to meet in groups of six or under indoors and must all belong to the same extended household group.

Up to four households are able to join together to form an extended household.

In Wales, children under 12 will be exempt and will not count towards that total.

While meeting five friends from five different households is legal, the guidance advises against it

Rule of Six: The new rules at a glance 

FAMILY AND HOUSEHOLDS

OFF: All gatherings of more than six people will be illegal, putting the traditional family Christmas at risk.

A family of five will be allowed to meet only one grandparent at a time, while families of six or more will be banned from meeting anyone.

It does not matter how many different households meet up, as long as they stick to the rule of six.

So six people from six different households can all get together, but two households of four cannot.

ON: The only exemption is if a household or a support bubble is made up of more than six people.

Support bubbles allow adults who live by themselves – as well as single parents – to join up with one other household.

SOCIALISING

OFF: All social gatherings of more than six – whether a book club, dinner party or picnic – are banned.

Police will have the power to break up bigger groups in parks, pubs and private homes.

An army of ‘Covid marshals’ will be recruited by councils to step up enforcement, patrolling town centres, parks, shopping centres and train stations and encouraging large groups to break up.

People in groups of seven or more face spot fines of £100, doubling with each repeat offence to a maximum of £3,200.

OFF: Pubs or restaurants cannot seat more than six people at one table. Hospitality venues can still accept more than six people in total, but each group must be separate and kept a safe distance apart.

So a group of eight friends, for example, can’t get round the restriction by booking two neighbouring tables of four.

And you cannot go to a pub in one group, then join another group. Venues face fines of £1,000 if they do not comply with the rules.

Pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas must record names and contact details of all customers, visitors and staff for 21 days.

RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES

ON: Churches, synagogues, mosques and temples will remain open, although congregations will be required to stay at least a metre apart.

ON: ceremonies and receptions are exempt from the new rules, and up to 30 guests are allowed but they have to sit or stand a metre apart.

ON: Funerals are also exempt, with 30 people allowed.

SPORTS

ON: Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools will remain open, as long as they are ‘Covid secure’ and enforce social distancing rules. Yoga or exercise classes with more than six people are allowed.

ON: Grassroots sport is largely unaffected. Recreational sports, including five-a-side football, cricket, rugby and parkruns, can go ahead as long as they follow protocols. But teams of more than six can’t go for a post-match pint together.

ON: Professional sports and elite training can go ahead. Pilot events for reintroducing fans to stadiums can continue, but with a limit of 1,000 spectators.

SCHOOLS, CHILDCARE AND OFFICES

ON: Schools and universities are not affected by the new rules. But they must continue to operate under existing guidelines.

ON: Youth groups, registered childcare and playgroups are exempt from the rule of six.

OFF: The rules still apply outside these settings, so a group of ten school friends cannot go from the classroom to a park, or seven colleagues cannot go from the office to the pub.

PROTESTS

ON: Protests can go ahead in groups larger than six, as long as they are ‘Covid secure’. 

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Can I have friends over for a BBQ or go to a friend's birthday party? 

No exception is made for these events, meaning the six person rule still applies to barbecues, birthday parties and similar gatherings. 

While meeting five friends from five different households is legal, the guidance advises against it.   

Can I stay overnight at my friends house?

Previous Government guidance advises that individuals and members of their household or support bubble should only stay overnight with their own household and one other household. 

This can be in each other's homes or other accommodation, such as hotels or apartments. 

The new measures have not specifically forbidden staying overnight, though the six person rule still applies. 

What about outdoor raves? 

Mass outdoor raves are not permitted by the current coronavirus restrictions.  

Concerns have been raised over the holding of illicit raves in 'blatant contravention' of rules aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus infection.

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty pointed the finger at 'Generation Z' for sparking a surge in cases. 

In a direct plea to young people, Boris Johnson said that they should consider their behaviour 'for the sake of your parents' and your grandparents' health'. 

Prof Whitty said the numbers of coronavirus case have been increasing 'much more rapidly' over the past few days. While the numbers among older people and children remained 'flat', in other age groups there were 'rapid upticks'.

He said among 17 to 18 year-olds and 19 to 21 year-olds the numbers had gone up 'really quite steeply' since mid August. 

He said that data suggested that without action Britain would be on a path 'extremely similar' to France where the numbers have continued to rise - cautioning that the situation was likely to be perilous all the way through to Spring.  

The new rules come after the number of daily positive Covid-19 cases in the UK rose to almost 3,000 - figures not seen since May.

Ministers hope the change to the law will make it easier for the police to identify and break up illegal gatherings. 

Why are the new measure being introduced?

Infection rates have gone up quite rapidly prompting chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty to say the nation is 'not yet in trouble, but heading for trouble' in these circumstances.

There has been a significant rise in incidences of coronavirus, up from 12.5 to 19.7 per 100,000 in last week, and figures suggest the R number is above 1.

The cases are most common among the 19-21 age group but there is concern that the rises in younger people may then move quickly through different older age groups.

Other warning signs also include a rise in the percentage of positive tests which can not be put down to more testing taking place.

Where will the

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