New “rule of six” to be adopted in England from Monday
By Gareth Jones, Public Affairs
Boris Johnson confirmed today that social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England from Monday. A new “rule of six” measure will be adopted and be designed to simplify and strengthen the rules and replace the previous guidance which limited gatherings to 30 people. This new rule will apply indoors and outdoors and be enforced by the police – although there will be some exemptions, such as households larger than six or in places of worship, gyms and restaurants that are deemed “Covid-secure”.
Speaking at the Downing Street Press Conference, the Prime Minister was joined by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance who outlined the latest trends across the country, which justified these new rules. Professor Whitty noted that the number of cases has been rising sharply in the past few days, particularly among young adults and without decisive action, the UK is likely to follow the trends seen in other countries, such as France and Spain, where Covid-19 cases and hospital admissions have surged recently.
Johnson stressed that he wished he did not have to take these steps, but said that "as your prime minister I must do what is necessary." He added that "These measures are not another national lockdown. The whole point of them is to avoid a second national lockdown." He also noted that the government will revise plans to pilot larger audiences and review plans for opening stadiums – meaning, for instance, that the return of spectators at football matches is likely to be delayed.
Johnson then discussed the implementation of a new mass testing regime he wants in place, which can provide results within 15 minutes – allowing people to return to a more normal life. Meanwhile Patrick Vallance provided an update on the latest vaccine trials, included the reported delay in the Oxford vaccine.