England and Scotland have reduced the number of people allowed to meet socially to six, amid a rise in coronavirus cases. Wales has also cut the number who can meet to six – but only indoors.
How does that change what you are allowed to do?
What are the new rules on socialising?
In England, the limit of up to six people from multiple households meeting up applies both indoors and outdoors, and to all ages.
Gatherings in private homes, venues like pubs and restaurants, and in outdoor spaces like parks are all affected.
In Scotland, a maximum of six people from two households can meet. Unlike England, children under 12 – from those two households – are not included in the total.
In Wales, it is now illegal for more than six people from an extended household to meet indoors. Children aged 11 and under from the extended household do not count in the total. Up to 30 people from different homes can still meet outside.
Northern Ireland has not announced any changes.
What are the rules on mingling?
The guidelines for England refer to times when “mingling” could break the rules. It says “there can be multiple groups of six people in a place, provided that those groups do not mingle”.
If you are at a pub, restaurant or other venue, you should “avoid mingling with anyone outside the group you are with, even if you see other people you know”.
People attending a protest, or other organised event, should also attend in groups no larger than six.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said two families of four stopping for a chat would be another example of mingling that broke the rules.
Will any gatherings of more than six be allowed?
Exceptions allowed in England include:
- If your household or support bubble is larger than six
- Education and training
- Protests and political events, if coronavirus rules are followed
- Jury duty or other legal commitments
- Children’s play groups and youth clubs
- Support groups, such as for addiction or abuse
Weddings, funerals and special religious occasions can go ahead with up to 30 people attending – in groups of six or less. However, celebrations afterwards are limited to weddings or civil partnerships.
Can I still go to the pub or to a place of worship?
Yes. Pubs, restaurants, shops and other venues will remain open if they follow safety rules and allow for social distancing.
Each group can have no more than six people in it and venues should also allow for social distancing between groups.
Places of worship can have as many people in them as is safe to do so. Again, people can only attend in groups of six or less.
What are the rules for sports?
You can play organised indoor and outdoor sports in groups of more than six, but not on an informal basis.
So, a Sunday League football match could go ahead, but not a game in the park with more than six people.
Group exercise classes are exempt from the rule of six, as long as they are organised under Covid-secure guidelines.
The government has listed 30 organised sports which are permitted with more than six participants. It says others will also be allowed if a sport’s organising body has published guidelines.
Can I be fined for breaking the rules?
The new measures mean police can break up groups larger than six.
Members of the group can be fined if they fail to follow the rules. This will be £100 for a first offence, doubling on each further offence up to £3,200.
What is the guidance on social distancing?
Each UK nation is advising people to stay 2m (6ft) away from anyone they don’t live with. However, there are some differences:
- In England, if you can’t stay 2m away, you can stay “1m plus” apart. The “plus” means doing something else to limit possible exposure – like wearing a face covering
- In Scotland, there are exemptions to the 2m rule in some places – like pubs and restaurants. Children aged 11 or under do not need to social distance
- In Wales, the 2m guidance reflects the fact it’s not realistic to stay that far apart somewhere like a hairdresser’s. Primary age children in Wales are also exempt
- Northern Ireland‘s guidance was 1m (3ft) for a time, but is now back at 2m