Social gatherings of more than six people banned from Monday

The government has announced a ban on social gatherings of more than six people in England from Monday.

The limit currently stands at 30 and the reduction marks the Prime Minister’s biggest coronavirus crackdown since lockdown rules were eased.

The action has been taken after a huge spike in coronavirus cases across the country. People who break the rules will be fined £100 for their first offence, which will double on each further repeat offence up to £3,200.

The new rules will not apply to schools, workplaces or Covid-secure weddings, funerals and organised team sports.

Households and support bubbles which are bigger than six people will also be exempt from the new rules. A full list of exemptions will be revealed by the government before the law changes on Monday.

The crackdown comes after warnings from government medical chiefs that the public – particularly young people – are now too relaxed about coronavirus. This has seen COVID-19 rates rise above 20 per 100,000 people.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to deliver further details at a Downing Street news conference later today.

In a preview of his address, the Prime Minister said: “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.”

The change applies to England only, to people of all ages, and to gatherings indoors and outdoors, in private homes, public outdoor spaces, and venues such as pubs and restaurants.