Following a press conference yesterday afternoon, the government has updated its social distancing measures in relation to social gatherings amid a rise in COVID-19 cases. From Monday 14 September, it will be illegal to meet in groups of more than six people in England. This applies to gatherings outside and inside the home.

The updated measure will be enforceable by law and the police can split up larger gatherings and impose fines of up to a maximum of £3,200. 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.

COVID secure venues, such as places of worship, gyms, restaurants and other hospitality venues, can still hold more than six people in total but within these venues there must not be individual groups larger than six. Education, work settings, weddings and funerals and organised sport are unaffected by the change. More information on the new guidance can be found here.

The government also announced a stronger enforcement approach which includes the following measures:

  • Businesses will have a clear duty to support NHS Test and Trace. From 18 September, it will be mandatory for certain businesses to have a system to collect NHS Test and Trace data, and keep this for 21 days
  • The government will support councils and police forces to respond to breaches of COVID-19 Secure guidelines. A register of newly qualified and recently retired Environmental Health Officers will be launched so that local authorities can recruit more quickly and fill any gaps. In addition, COVID-19 Secure Marshals will be available to help local authorities support social distancing in towns and city centres
  • The current fine regime remains in place with escalation of fines for persistent non-compliance to a maximum of £3,200
  • There will be further steps to improve compliance with quarantine and UK border/point of entry requirements.

In addition to these measures, the government will review its current plans to pilot larger audiences in venues this month.