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Rule of 6: Boris Johnson announces new coronavirus restrictions after cases increase

Boris Johnson has announced the 'Rule of 6', meaning from Monday it is illegal to meet in groups of more than six.

If your household group is bigger than that you are exempt as are venues like pubs and gyms which can remain open, although you cannot gather there in groups of more than six.

Boris Johnson announced the changes
Boris Johnson announced the changes

Organised sports, weddings and funerals are not impacted by this change.

The current limit is 30.

He stressed importance of washing hands regularly for 20 seconds, following social distancing advice and of getting tested and self isolating if you develop symptoms.

“You must not meet socially in groups of more than 6. This will apply in any setting," he said. “Anyone breaking the rules risks being dispersed, fined and possibly arrested.”

But he said there were exemptions. Households or support bubbles larger than six can still gather, and ‘covid secure’ venues such as restaurants and pubs can hold more than six in total, but within those venues there should not be groups larger than six, and those groups should not mix. Education and work places were unaffected by the rule of six, he said.

Venues and premises where people meet socially will be legally required to request details of a member of each party, and retain those details for 21 days.

The prime minster said the government will support local authorities, and the ‘covid secure marshals” would be introduced, while there would be a register of environmental health officers that local authorities could draw on for support.

Meanwhile a plan to return audiences to stadiums and conference centres, were to be reviewed.

“These measures are not another national lockdown,” he said. “The whole point is to avoid another lockdown.”

Moments before his announcement chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said an increase in coronavirus cases among 17 to 21 year olds was behind the need for tougher restrictions.

The Prime Minister added the government is working towards 500,000 tests a day by the end of October - something he called a "moonshot" plan of regular testing to help the country return to normality.

"I believe that we will continue to drive this virus down and that we will beat this virus before too long," he added. "Let's work together, let's follow the rules, meet in groups of no more than six. Wash your hands, cover your face, make space."

Next month a scheme to test people at the doors of large venues before letting them in will be trialled in Salford.

On the subject of testing he urged people without symptoms not to get tested as it will take up resources.

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the underlying technology behind the regular mass tests had been used for other diseases, and he was confident a system could be in place in the "not too distant future."

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