Christopher Whiteside MBE is a Conservative activist.
He has served as a County, City & District, Borough, Town and Parish councillor, and has also been a school governor and health authority member.
He lives and works in the North of England, particularly spending time in Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire.
Details of the new rules on social gatherings
The Prime Minister has announced a new rule of six for social gatherings, helping us to control and suppress the spread of coronavirus.
Despite the enormous sacrifices of the British people over the last few months, the latest figures have shown an increase in the number of coronavirus cases. We need to act now to stop the virus from spreading.
At today’s press conference, the Prime Minister has announced that, with reasonable exemptions, the number of people legally allowed to meet socially will be reduced from thirty to six. This new lower limit will make it easier for everyone to understand what is expected and for the police to identify and disperse illegal gatherings.
It is absolutely critical that people 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.
The government is simplifying and strengthening the rules – making them easier for people to understand and for the police to enforce:
From Monday, in England, it will be illegal to meet in groups of more than six people. This will apply in any setting – indoors or outdoors, at home or in the pub. The ban will be set out in law and enforced by the police – anyone breaking the rules risks being dispersed, fined and possibly arrested. This single measure replaces both the existing ban on gatherings of more than 30 and the current guidance on allowing 2 households to meet indoors. Now people only need to remember the rule of six.
Introducing only limited exemptions to the rule of six. If a single household or support bubble is larger than six, they can still gather. Likewise, Covid Secure venues like places of worship, gyms, restaurants and hospitality venues can still hold more than six people in total – however, within the venues there must not be individual groups larger than six. Education and work places are unaffected.
Enforcing the rules more strongly. Premises where people meet socially will be legally required to request the contact details of a member of every party for NHS Test and Trace, and retain them for 21 days. Fines will be levied against hospitality venues failing to ensure their premises are Covid Secure. And Border Force will step up enforcement efforts at the border to ensure people are complying with the quarantine rules.
Introducing Covid Secure Marshalls. The Marshalls will help ensure social distancing in towns and cities centres, and we will support local authorities to make further and faster use of their powers to close venues that are breaking the rules and pose a risk to public health.
Revising existing plans to reopen some activities. We must now revise plans to pilot larger audiences in venues later this month and review our intention to return audiences to stadiums and conference centres from 1 October.
Ensuring schools and colleges are the very last places to shut in the event of a local lockdown. As the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser have said, the long term risks to children’s life chances of not going to school are significant and far greater than the health risks of going back to school. We have today also published new guidance for universities on how they can operate in a Covid Secure way.
More details can be found on the government website here.
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, or registered childcare (including wraparound care)
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
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