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The Prime Minister has today, Wednesday 9 September, announced new rules on how people can socialise amidst rising cases of coronavirus across the country.
The new rules mean that from Monday, the number of people allowed to meet socially, both indoors and outdoors, is now a maximum of six, from multiple households.
The rules apply at home, in restaurants, public spaces, indoors, parks or outdoor spaces. Anyone ignoring the “rule of six” runs the risk of prosecution and a fine.
Even with gatherings of six or fewer, the advice is to still remain two metres (three paces) apart wherever possible. If this is not possible, people should take other steps to protect themselves and others, such as wearing a face covering or facing away from others not in your household.
However, there are exceptions to this rule where social gatherings of more than six people will be allowed. These include:
- When a household or support bubble is more than six
- Gatherings for work or education purposes
- Weddings and funerals. Under existing guidance up to 30 people are able to attend (depending on the capacity of the venue)
- Team sports organised in a way limiting the spread of coronavirus
Face coverings will remain compulsory on public transport and in shops.
COVID-secure venues can hold more than six people but no one group can be larger than six. Venues must take people’s contact details for contact tracing and could be fined if they fail to maintain COVID-security.
The Prime Minister also announced stronger enforcement, including “Covid Secure Marshalls” to enforce social distancing in town centres.
Plans to allow larger audiences in venues are being reviewed.
With these measures the Prime Minister said schools and workplaces would be able to remain open and colleges to welcome students back this month. But if an outbreak occurs in a college they are asked to isolate the students at the college, not send them home.
Director of Public Health at Essex County Council, Dr Mike Gogarty said:
“The new rules that come in to place are no surprise. Nationally there has been an increase in coronavirus cases, and Essex is no different. This is obviously concerning and urgent action is required to halt this increase. I welcome the new rules announced today.
“Coronavirus isn’t going away and we must all continue to follow this guidance to reduce the spread.
“As well as only meeting in groups of six or below, I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping at least two metres from others, washing your hands regularly, wearing a face covering when in enclosed or crowded spaces and of course self-isolating if you have symptoms and booking a test as soon as possible.”
Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, Cllr John Spence said:
“We know that these new rules may cause upset, but they are completely necessary.
“We cannot be complacent. The virus is still very much present within our communities with cases continuing to rise. We must all continue to make sacrifices to protect ourselves and others.
“We repeat the messages, keep your distance, wear a face covering if you can’t, and if you have symptoms, please self-isolate to avoid onwards transmission.”