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New laws prohibiting social gatherings of more than six people come into effect today (Monday 14 September) in England as the Government calls on the public to remain vigilant in the fight against coronavirus.

The change follows a rapid increase in the number of daily positive cases.

The new 'rule of six' simplifies and strengthens the rules on social gatherings, making them easier to understand and easier for the police to enforce. It means that – apart from a set of limited exemptions including work and education – any social gatherings of more than six people will be against the law.

The rule applies across England and replaces the existing ban on participating in gatherings of more than 30 and the current guidance on allowing two households to meet indoors. Now the only rule that people need to remember is to not participate in social gatherings of more than six people in any setting, indoors or outdoors.

Exemptions include cases where a single household or support bubble is larger than six people. The rule also does not apply to gatherings for work or education purposes, and to other gatherings including weddings, funerals, and team sports organised in a COVID-19 secure way.

Venues following COVID-19 secure guidelines – such as gyms, restaurants, cafes, pubs and other hospitality venues – can still hold more than six people in total. But within those venues, there must not be individual groups larger than six, and groups must not mix socially or form larger groups.

The rule will be kept under constant review and will only remain in place as long as is necessary.

For Scotland
In Scotland, a new law has come into force limiting social gatherings in Scotland to a maximum of six people from two households.

The changed rules apply both indoors and outdoors - including in homes, gardens, pubs and restaurants.

Until now up to eight people from three homes were allowed to meet indoors, and 15 from five households outdoors.

Children aged under 12 will not count towards the total in the 'rule of six' in Scotland.

For Wales
People in Wales will only be able to meet in groups of six or under indoors and must all belong to the same extended household group.

Up to four households are able to join together to form an extended household.

But, unlike in England, children under 12 will be exempt and will not count towards that total.

Also unlike in England, people will also still be able to meet up in groups of up to 30 outdoors, as long as social distancing is maintained.

Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland announced a six person, two household limit on indoor gatherings on 24 August, which was a reduction from its previous restriction of 10 people from four households.

(sources: gov.uk/, BBC, image: pexels)