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What is changing?
The law is being amended to bar almost all gatherings of more than six people, outdoors, in England. While guidelines had previously set a limit of six for most circumstances, beyond community events, weddings and the like, up to now the only ceiling set in law was 30 people. That ceiling has now come down, and will be effective from Monday. The rules for indoor interaction, limiting this to no more than two households or bubbles, remain the same. Weddings, funerals and other such events also remain unchanged.
Why is this being done?
Two reasons. One is that something had to be done to curb fast-rising Covid infection numbers, with daily cases for the UK shooting up to almost 3,000 for Sunday and Monday, and more than 2,400 on Tuesday, well above any period since the initial peak of the pandemic. But also, police had warned ministers that the legal limit of 30 made it hard for them to break up sizeable gatherings.
What about local lockdowns?
These are still taking place, for example new rules announced for Bolton, which mean restaurants can only offer takeaways, and closes many businesses from late-night trading. The new rules are intended to work in parallel.
What am I barred from doing?
In the most basic terms, being outdoors with more than five other people, whether in a garden, a park, outside a pub, or anywhere else. The only exceptions are if your household or support bubble is larger; for “work or education purposes”; for events like weddings or funerals; or organised team sports held in a Covid-secure way. Full guidance on exceptions is promised before the new rules come into effect.
Can I hold a children’s birthday party in the park?
Not unless it’s a pretty small one. The rule on gatherings of more than six people applies to all ages.
Is this also changing elsewhere across the UK?
That remains to be seen as such rules are devolved. In Scotland, the ceiling on outdoor gatherings is placed at five households (outdoors) or three households (indoors). In Wales, up to 30 people can still gather outdoors, while the indoors guidance is that people people should not gather “with anyone who is not a member of their household (or extended household) unless they have a good reason”.
Will I be fined if I break the new rules?
Potentially. While the first response of police will be to “engage, explain and encourage”, a failure to do so could bring a £100 fine, doubling on each repeat offence up to £3,200.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: England Covid restrictions: what is allowed from Monday | World news