The Prime Minister said the country ‘must act’ to combat a second wave of Covid-19 as he outlined new restrictions this afternoon (September 9).
Announcing the new measures, Boris Johnson said the rules were being put in place ‘to prevent another wholesale national lockdown’.
During a Downing Street press briefing, the PM set out new rules that ban gatherings of more than six people – unless they meet one of a set of limited exemptions.
Mr Johnson said: “I know that over time the rules have become quite complicated and confusing.
“We are responding, and we are simplifying and strengthening the rules, making them easier for everyone to understand.
“In England from Monday we are introducing the rule of six.
“You must not meet socially in groups of more than six and, if you do, you will be breaking the law.”
However, Mr Johnson stressed there will be some exemptions to the ‘rule of six’.
He said: “There will be some limited exemptions. For example, if a single household or support bubble is larger than six, then obviously they can still gather.
“Covid-secure venues like places of worships, gyms, restaurants, hospitality venues can still hold more than six in total. Within those venues, however, there must not be individual groups larger than six and groups must not mix socially or form larger groups.
“Education and work settings are unaffected. Covid-secure weddings and funerals can go ahead up to a limit of 30 people and organised sport will still be able to proceed.”
He also said enforcement of the new rules would be stepped up.
Failure to comply with an officer’s efforts to engage, explain and encourage will result in the enforcement of a £100 fine, according to earlier reports.
This will double on each further repeat offence up to £3,200.
Mr Johnson said: “Fines will be levied against hospitality venues that fail to ensure that their premises remain Covid-secure.
“We will boost the local enforcement capacity of local authorities by introducing Covid-secure marshals to help ensure social distancing in town and city centres, and by setting up a register of environmental health officers that local authorities can draw upon for support.
“We will simplify the passenger locator form needed for travelling to the UK and take measures to ensure these are completed and checked before departure.
“Border Force will step up enforcement efforts at the border to ensure arrivals are complying with the quarantine rules.”
But the PM also set out a method by which the country could eventually return to normality.
He said said the Government is “working hard” to increase testing capacity to 500,000 a day by the end of October.
He said: “Up to now, we have used testing primarily to identify people who are positive – so we can isolate them from the community and protect high risk groups.
“And that will continue to be our priority. We are working hard to increase our testing capacity to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.
“But in future, in the near future, we want to start using testing to identify people who are negative – who don’t have coronavirus and who are not infectious – so we can allow them to behave in a more normal way, in the knowledge they cannot infect anyone else with the virus.
“And we think, we hope, we believe that new types of test which are simple, quick and scalable will become available.
“They use swabs or saliva and can turn round results in 90 or even 20 minutes.
“Crucially, it should be possible to deploy these tests on a far bigger scale than any country has yet achieved – literally millions of tests processed every single day.”