England and Scotland have cut the number of people allowed to meet socially to six. There are now similar rules in Wales if you want to meet indoors. Northern Ireland says different households can’t mix socially indoors in private homes.
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 to meet indoors – and even then, the six people must be from an “extended household”. Children aged 10 and under do not count in the total. Up to 30 people from different homes can still meet outside.
Northern Ireland has announced tougher rules. Social mixing of households will now not be allowed inside private homes at all – although there are some exemptions.
Up to six people from two households can meet in private gardens. In other places, both inside and outside, up to 15 can gather with social distancing – but venues, such as pubs, must carry out risk assessments.
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
From Monday 28 September, only 15 people will be able to attend weddings or civil partnerships, in groups of six. Funerals will be able to take place with up to 30 people attending.
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.
Across England however, from Thursday 24 September, all pubs, restaurants and hospitality venues will have to shut at 22:00, and will only be able to offer table service.
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?
From Monday 28 September you will only be able to play organised indoor sports in groups of six or less. It will still be possible for larger groups to take part in organised sports outdoors, 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 or wear a mask where specified. From Monday 28 September the fine for a first offence will double to £200. Repeat offenders will have their fines doubled for successive offences, up to a maximum of £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
How long should I self-isolate?
Self-isolating means staying at home and not leaving it.
- a new continuous cough
- a high temperature
- a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell
Other members of their household should isolate for 14 days and not leave their homes.
If you test positive you will be contacted by contact tracers, who will establish who else you might have passed on the infection to.
Anybody they deem to be at risk will have to isolate themselves for 14 days from the point of contact.