Case Studies

Pandemic rule of six; and exemptions

by Mark Rowe

Changes to coronavirus regulations, introduced today in England, mean that the number of people that can attend social gatherings will be restricted to six.

The new law reduces the size of gatherings from 30 to six people, and will apply to indoors and outdoors, including in private homes, with of exemptions, such as weddings, funerals, and team sports; education and workplaces. Venues following COVID-19 secure guidelines – such as places of worship, gyms, restaurants and other hospitality venues – can still hold more than six people in total. But within those venues, there must not be individual groups larger than six, and groups must not mix socially or form larger groups. For exemption details in full visit

Police will be able to disperse any such gatherings and fine individuals involved £100, doubling up to a maximum of £3,200. Organisers and facilitators of larger gatherings of more than 30 people – such as unlicensed music events – can be subject to fines of up to £10,000.


Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Across the country, we have all made enormous sacrifices in the fight against coronavirus. However, the recent rise in cases makes it clear that more needs to be done to stop the spread of this disease.”

APCC (Association of Police and Crime Commissioners) chair Paddy Tipping said that the new regulations bring clarity. He said: “We await policing guidance, but we do know that officers will continue to engage, explain and encourage before they take enforcement action. As we have seen throughout the pandemic, overwhelmingly, any breaches of regulations have been dealt with without the need to issue fines. This approach has been successful to date and I am sure that the public will continue to work with the police to help to reduce the infection rate and keep people safe.”

National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, John Apter said: “We are in the grip of a deadly pandemic and we have seen cases increasing over recent weeks. Policing is under pressure like never before, but my colleagues will give enforcement notices if they feel it’s appropriate, and we make no apology for doing so.”

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