New COVID-19 Guidance

Lots of radio stations are answering questions about the new “Rule of 6” announced by Boris Johnson during Wednesday’s No. 10 press conference. So, what are the rules? In this post I’m going to summarise the numerous Government press releases and focus on some of the most pressing questions.

Venues must record contact details

“Premises and venues across England must have a system in place to record contact details of their customers, visitors and staff in the latest move to break the chains of transmission of coronavirus.”

  • It applies to businesses and other public settings where people meet socially including hospitality, close contact and leisure venues
  • Details must be stored for 21 days and shared with NHS Test and Trace, if requested
  • There are fixed penalties for organisations that do not comply
  • Data collection is required from 18 September
  • Venues must keep a record of all staff working on the premises on a given day
  • The contact details must include name, contact number, date of visit, arrival time and departure time (the latter if possible)

Meeting with others safely

  • You do not need to socially distance from anyone in your household, meaning the people you live with.
  • You do not need to socially distance from someone you’re in an established relationship with, or anyone in your legally permitted support bubble if you are in one.
  • It is against the law to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than 6 (enforceable with a fixed penalty notice of £100, doubling up to a maximum of £3200).
  • Exclusions include work, voluntary or charitable services, education, registered childcare, before or after school clubs, attending court and jury service, emergency assistance, participating in children’s playgroups, weddings (including receptions) or other “religious life-cycling ceremonies” where up to 30 people can attend (including funerals), organised indoor and outdoor sports, youth and elite sports, and protests and political activities organised in compliance with COVID-19 secure guidance and subject to assessments. Finally, religious services in places of worship are permitted as long as no one visits in a group greater than 6.

FAQs

Can I visit people indoors?

Yes.

From 14 September there will be a legal limit on the number of people you don’t live with you are able to meet. When meeting with people you don’t live with you can socialise in groups of up to 6.

How many people am I allowed to meet with outdoors?

From 14 September, there will be a new legal gatherings limit. When meeting with people you don’t live with you can socialise in groups of up to 6. You should continue to maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with.

Can I use public transport if I’m seeing friends in a park or going to my parents’ garden?

You can help control coronavirus and travel safely by walking and cycling, if you can. However where this is not possible, you can use public transport or drive. If you do use public transport, you must wear a face covering and you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.

Are children counted in the group of 6?

Yes.

Can I go to a pub or restaurant with people I don’t live with?

When eating or drinking out with people you do not live with (and who are not in your support bubble), you should keep to the wider rules on group sizes: you must only attend these places in groups of up to 6 people. You can attend in larger numbers with the people you live with/who are in your support bubble. This rule will apply and become the law from 14 September.

In all cases, people from different households should ensure they socially distance as much as possible. You should think about where to sit at a table with this in mind – the premises should also take reasonable steps to help you do so in line with COVID-19 Secure guidelines. It remains the case that you do not need to maintain social distancing with those in your support bubble. This change also does not affect the support you receive from your carers.

Can I share a private vehicle with someone from another household?

You should try not to share a vehicle with those outside your household or social bubble. If you need to, try to:

  • share the transport with the same people each time
  • keep to small groups of people of up to 6 people at any one time (this limit of 6 people will apply and have legal force from 14 September).
  • open windows for ventilation
  • travel side by side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow
  • face away from each other
  • consider seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle
  • clean your car between journeys using standard cleaning products – make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch
  • make sure the driver and passengers wear a face covering

Can I stay overnight in someone else’s home?

Yes, you can stay overnight in someone else’s home. From 14 September there will be a new legal limit on the gathering sizes. This will mean that you may only stay overnight in someone else’s home if you do not form a group of more than 6 people. This limit does not apply if you are in a support bubble with the person whose home you are staying in.

You should ensure you maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble. Take particular care to maintain excellent hygiene – washing hands and surfaces – especially when using shared facilities like bathrooms wherever possible.

People in the same support bubble can stay overnight with each other in larger groups as they count as one household.

Can I look after my grandchildren?

Yes. People in groups of up to 6 can meet indoors or outdoors, which enables you to spend time with your grandchildren. We recognise that grandparents and other relatives often provide informal childcare for young children, and this can be very important. Although you should try to maintain social distance from people you do not live with wherever possible, it may not always be practicable to do so when providing care to a young child or infant. If this is this case – and where young children may struggle to keep social distance – you should still limit close contact as much as possible, and take other precautions such as washing hands and clothes regularly.

If you have formed a support bubble with your grandchildren’s household, which is allowed if either you or they live in a ‘single adult household’, then there can be close contact and social distancing is not necessary.

Is there a limit on the number of people attending funerals?

The new legal gatherings limit of 6 people which will apply and come into force from 14 September does not apply to funerals.

Relevant premises will limit capacity based on how many people it can safely accommodate with social distancing in place, and we advise that funerals are limited to a maximum of 30 people. (NOTE, this is guidance rather than the law.)

Can weddings go ahead?

Yes, wedding ceremonies, civil partnerships and receptions (sit down meals in COVID-19 Secure venues) are allowed to take place. The new legal gatherings limit of 6 people which will apply and come into force from 14 September does not apply to weddings, civil partnerships and receptions.

When can I gather in groups of more than 6?

If you live in a household with more than 6 people, you can continue to gather in and attend all settings together. This same applies for your support bubbles. All venues should continue to accomodate groups larger than 6 who live together or are in the same support bubble to gather in and use their services and venues.

There will be exceptions where groups can be larger than 6 people, including:

  • where everyone lives together or is in the same support bubble, or to continue existing arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents
  • for work, and voluntary or charitable services
  • for education, training, registered childcare, or providers offering before or after-school clubs for children
  • fulfilling legal obligations such as attending court or jury service
  • providing emergency assistance, or providing support to a vulnerable person
  • for you or someone else to avoid illness, injury or harm
  • participate in children’s playgroups
  • wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions, or for other religious life-cycle ceremonies – where up to 30 people will be able to attend
  • funerals – where up to 30 people will be able to attend
  • organised indoor and outdoor sports, physical activity and exercise classes (see the list of recreational team sportsoutdoor sport and exercise allowed under the gyms and leisure centre guidance)
  • youth groups or activities
  • elite sporting competition or training
  • protests and political activities organised in compliance with COVID-19 secure guidance and subject to strict risk assessments

Does this mean that no more than six people can be in a pub or restaurant at once?

Venues following COVID-19 Secure guidelines can host more than 6 people in total, but no one should visit in a group of greater than 6. When you visit one of these places, such as a pub, shop, leisure venue, restaurant or place of worship you should:

  • follow the limits on the number of other people you should meet with as a group (it will be illegal to be in group of more than six from outside of your household)
  • avoid social interaction with anyone outside the group you are with, even if you see other people you know
  • provide your contact details to the organiser so that you can be contacted if needed by the NHS Test and Trace programme

Can I have a celebration for significant or ceremonial life events, other than weddings?

More than six people are permitted to attend the ceremonies for certain significant life events, such as christenings, baptisms, and bar mitzvahs. However, celebratory receptions of up to 30 people are only permitted for weddings and civil partnerships. It remains important to limit the number of large social gatherings at this time given the significant risk of transmission. If you are attending other types of ceremonies, you should minimise your social interaction with others, and always keep your distance from people you do not live with (or who are in your support bubble).

Can I see my partner / boyfriend / girlfriend if I do not live with them? Do we have to socially distance?

Yes. People in an established relationship do not need to socially distance. If in the early stages of a relationship, you should take particular care to follow the guidance on social distancing. If you intend to have close contact with someone, you should discuss how you can help to prevent risks of transmission as a couple, for example, by ensuring you are both avoiding close contact with people you do not live with.

How will the new rules on gatherings be enforced?

These rules will become law on Monday 14 September. This will enable the police to enforce these legal limits, and if you break them you could face a fine (fixed penalty notice) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200. Later this month, businesses will also be required to ensure there are no unlawful gatherings in their premises. We know the majority of businesses are responsible and are taking the necessary steps to be COVID-19 Secure, but for those businesses who won’t take those steps, egregious breaches will be enforced.

Anyone organising a gathering (such as a rave or house party) of more than 30 could face a £10,000 fine.

Can I gather in a group of more than 6 for childcare?

There is an exemption to the legal gatherings limit which comes into force on 14 September for the purposes of education, training, formal registered childcare, and providers offering before and after school clubs, or other out-of-school setting provision for children. Youth groups and other children’s groups will also be exempt from the gatherings limit. Family and friends can continue to provide informal childcare as long as groups from different households don’t exceed 6 people.

Are there restrictions on how far I can travel?

No. You can travel irrespective of distance, but you should take hygiene and safety precautions if using services on the way.

Can I go on holiday? Can I stay in my second home?

Yes.

However, you should not go on holiday in England with people you do not live with (or who are not in your support bubble) in a group larger than 6 people from 14 September, when a new legal gathering limit comes into force. Doing so will be against the law. You should ensure you maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with or is not in your support bubble.

Can I pray in a place of worship?

Yes, places of worship will stay open for services and communal prayer in line with guidance for reopening Places of Worship.

Places of worship can stay open for services for more than 6 people. However individual groups of more than one household or support bubble must not exceed 6 people.

You should limit your social interaction in these venues to the group you are attending with.

Can I play sport outside? Does this now need to be limited to 6 people?

You can play team sport in any number if this is formally organised by a sports club or similar organisation and sports-governing body guidance has been issued. You should only be playing team sports where the relevant governing body has published guidance on how to do so safely. For example, the English Cricket Board has published guidance here and the FA has published guidance here.

Team sports that do not have approved guidance should not be played if you cannot socially distance from people you do not live with. Instead, people should train together and take part in activities such as conditioning or fitness sessions in groups of no more than 6 people (outdoors).

What are the ‘COVID-19 Secure’ safety guidelines workplaces have to put in place? Can work gatherings exceed 6 people?

We have set out clear, practical steps that businesses should take to ensure their workplaces are COVID-19 Secure and give their staff the confidence to return back to work.

These include how to keep as many people as possible safely apart from those they do not live within various workplace settings.

Work gatherings are exempt from the gatherings limit of 6.

How do the quarantine exemptions work?

Passengers arriving from the countries and territories on the UK’s travel corridor list will not be required to self-isolate on arrival into the UK, unless you have visited or stopped in a country or territory not on that list in the preceding 14 days, when you must self-isolate at the address you provided on the public health passenger locator form.

We will keep the conditions in these countries and territories under review. If they worsen we will not hesitate to reintroduce self-isolation requirements.

Travellers should always check the latest FCO travel advice. Travel advice includes information on any health measures in place for visitors to the country or territory. These can include a requirement to self-isolate, quarantine, or undergo testing for COVID-19, or even restrictions on entry.

Information on self-isolation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can be found on the Devolved Administration websites: