September 10, 2020
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.
That’s why, at today’s press conference, the Prime Minister has announced a new rule of six for social gathering, helping us to control and suppress the spread of coronavirus.
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.
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 two households to meet indoors. Now people only need to remember the rule of six.
If a single household or support bubble is larger than six, they can still gather. And 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 workplaces are unaffected.
We are making the rules simpler to follow, but we are also enforcing them more strongly.
Premises where people meet socially will be legally required to request the contact details of every member of every party, for the NHS Test and Trace system. Fines will be levied against venues that fail to ensure their premises are COVID-secure.
Border Force will also step up enforcement efforts at the border. We will ensure that people are complying with quarantine rules upon entry into the United Kingdom.
We are also introducing COVID-secure marshalls to ensure social distancing measures in towns and city centres. We will support local authorities to make further and faster user of their powers to close venues that are breaking the rules, and pose a risk to public health.
The Prime Minister has been clear that it is a moral imperative to keep schools open. It is socially intolerable, economically unsustainable and morally indefensible for schools to be closed any longer than is absolutely necessary.
The evidence is clear on this. There is no substitute for child to learn at school, to give them the knowledge and skills to succeed in life. And 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.
That’s why the Prime Minister made clear that schools will only be closed as a last resort. And schools and colleges will be the very last places to shut in the event of a local lockdown.
The Government has also today published new guidance for universities on how to operate in a COVID-secure way.
While a vaccine is developed, we are working on an alternative plan which could allow life to return closer to normality, based on mass testing and public health.
That’s why it is important for everyone to follow the Government’s guidance: wash your hands, cover your face, and make space.
The Government is increasing testing capacity to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October. We are already at 300,000 tests a day capacity. We will soon introduce faster coronavirus tests. And the Government is planning to use testing to identify people who are negative, allowing them to leave more normal lives in the knowledge they cannot infect anyone else.
The Chief Medical Officer has said the following about the Head, Face, Space Campaign:
‘Hands. Face. Space’ emphasises important elements of the guidance we want everybody to remember: wash your hands regularly, use a face covering when social distancing is not possible and try to keep your distance from those not in your household.
And if you or anyone you know ever displays symptoms of the virus, you can get a free test by calling 119 or visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus.
Commenting, Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, said:
“Corbyn’s Pension Tax will see ten million savers facing a huge bill forcing them to delay their retirement for almost three and a half years.
“This is just one of the ways a Corbyn government would hammer hardworking people on top of his plans to hike up taxes by £2,400 a year, as well as the cost of his plan for unlimited immigration and the chaos of 2020 being dominated by two more referendums – one on Brexit and another on Scottish independence.
“Only Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party can get Brexit done with a deal, get parliament working again and turbocharge our economy to unleash Britain’s potential.”