How the 'rule of six' differs in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Governments across the UK have made a U-turn on easing lockdown restrictions this week after a rise in coronavirus cases.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced ‘the rule of six’ at a press conference on Wednesday, cracking down on social gatherings in England from next week.

But new rules will also be implemented in Wales and Scotland from Monday.

They are being applied slightly differently in each devolved administration, which could cause some confusion – so here’s a breakdown of how it’s going to work in each country.

Rules in England

From Monday, gatherings of more than six people will be illegal.

The rules will apply across England to all ages, including children, and in any setting either indoors and outdoors, at home or a pub.

A single household or support bubble that is larger than six will still be able to gather.

Covid-secure venues like places of worship, gyms, restaurants and hospitality settings can still hold more than six in total, but individual groups at these establishments can be no larger than six.

Education and work settings are not affected by the new rules.

Weddings and funerals can still go ahead with a limit of 30 people if conducted in a Covid-secure way.

Police can give people £100 if they are found not following the rules.

Rules in Wales

People in Wales will only be able to meet in groups of six or under indoors and must all belong to the same extended household group.

Up to four households are able to join together to form an extended household.

But, unlike in England, children under 12 will be exempt and will not count towards that total.

Also unlike in England, people will also still be able to meet up in groups of up to 30 outdoors, as long as social distancing is maintained.

The changes will not apply in Caerphilly county borough due to its rise in Covid-19 cases.

Rules in Scotland

A maximum of six people from two households will be allowed to meet together in Scotland.

Just like in England, the new limit applies when people meet in restaurants, pubs and beer gardens, as well as in homes.

But children under the age of 12, who are part of the two households meeting will not count towards the limit of six people, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

There will be ‘some limited exceptions’, covering organised sports and places of worship.

Up to 20 people will be able to attend weddings, civil partnerships and funerals, as well as receptions and wakes, which is more stringent than both England and Wales.

Rules in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has not announced any changes to how many people can gather. But localised coronavirus restrictions are to be introduced in Belfast and Ballymena.

People from two or more households in these areas will not be able to meet in private settings.

There are a number of limited exceptions, including childcare provision and households that have formed a social bubble with another.

No more than six people, from no more than two households, will be allowed to meet in private gardens.

In Northern Ireland, the number of people who can gather indoors in a private home was already reduced from 10 people from four households to six people from two households last month due to a rise in Covid-19 cases.

Up to 15 people can meet outdoors.

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