NEW LEGAL LIMIT OF SIX FOR SOCIAL GATHERINGS
Updated: Sep 18
After a rise in the R rate across England, pubs, bars and restaurants need to be aware that
from 18th September they must limit all social groups of customers to six people, inside or out.
Core COVID-19 Secure requirements will be mandated for hospitality businesses, and egregious breaches enforced. The government has also published simplified COVID-19 Secure guidance, available here.
What are the new rules and why have they been put in place?
From Monday 14th September, social gatherings of more than six people are illegal.
It is also important that people from different households, in the group remain socially distanced.
The previous limit on outdoor gatherings was 30 people, whilst indoors in hospitality venues the rule was people from no more than two households should meet at one table, whilst observing social distancing from others in a venue.
The change in the law means that the upper number in this respect for hospitality venues is now, six people from any family group who can meet inside or outside.
Separately the requirement to capture customer details for Track and Trace now becomes a legal requirement in all hospitality venues and failure to do so will be punishable with fines from 18th September. Records should be kept for 21 days.
Where will the law apply ?
The rules will apply across England to all ages and to indoor and outdoor gatherings.
This will include private homes, parks, pubs and restaurants and they will be applied to all ages.
As domestic gatherings of young people have been highlighted as the chief area of concern, it's likely that these will now be the focus of legal enforcement, as it becomes more unlikely that there will be large groups drinking in pub car parks, with the change in the seasons.
What the hospitality trade clearly will be anxious to avoid is issues with policing their social distancing capacity, as the weather deteriorates and customers move indoors.
Whilst managing the threat of legal action, due to any consequent lack of indoor social distancing, the chief concern for the hospitality industry, remains the nightmare threat of a second lock down of all leisure venues , as in parallel Coronavirus support schemes come to an end on Halloween.
Will there be any exemptions?
There will be a few scenarios where the restrictions do not apply, such as if your household or support bubble is larger than six people, or if you are gathering in a large group for the sake of work or education.
Weddings, funerals and organised team sports will also be exempt if they are conducted in a Covid-secure way.
What will the punishments be for breaking the rules?
The Government hope the new rules will make it easier for the police to break up large gatherings.
Failure to stick to the new rules could mean a £100 fine, which will double with every subsequent offence up to £3,200.
The Prime Minister will officially announce new rules at a press conference on Wednesday.
He is expected to then tell the public: ““We need to act now to stop the virus spreading. So we are simplifying and strengthening the rules on social contact – making them easier to understand and for the police to enforce.It is absolutely critical that people now abide by these rules and remember the basics – washing your hands, covering your face, keeping space from others, and getting a test if you have symptoms.”