Rule of six: social distancing rules, support bubbles and exemptions explained


Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Science Officer Sir Patrick Vallance agreed action was urgently needed after the number of positive cases rose sharply.

Where do these rules apply?

Lockdown restrictions mean that people will not be allowed to congregate or mingle with different households in any public place, indoors or outdoors.

This includes private homes, parks, pubs, restaurants, and sporting events.

If you are exercising with another person, it should be done in an outdoor public place such as a park or beach.

What are the exceptions to the rule of six?

Support bubbles

Households or support bubbles of more than six people are exempt from the new rules. Support bubbles allow adults living alone and single parents with children under the age of 18 to move to another household.

Under the new rules, parents with babies under one year old can also form a “support bubble” with another household.

This means that they can do things like visit their home, stay overnight, and travel together in vehicles.


Weddings will not be allowed to take place under the current restrictions, meaning many couples will have to defer again.

A wedding might be allowed if there is an “exceptional circumstance”, but guests will be limited to six.

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The funeral can continue, with 30 people allowed to pay their respects. But only six people will be allowed to attend the vigil.

Schools and offices

All elementary and secondary schools will reopen on March 8, although the GCSE and A-level exams will be canceled for a second year.

Only vulnerable children and children of key workers were allowed to attend schools for face-to-face learning, and early childhood facilities such as nurseries remained accessible.

On the job, the Prime Minister said everyone should work from home unless it is “impossible” to do so.

Read more: Will schools close again?

Pubs and restaurants

As of Wednesday January 6, all pubs and restaurants in England are to close and can only offer food and non-alcoholic drinks to take away (until 11 p.m.), click-and-collect and drive.

All food and drink (including alcohol) may continue to be provided upon delivery.

Places of worship

Churches, synagogues, mosques and temples remain open, although congregations are required to stay at least three feet apart and attendance is capped. According to existing guidelines, services should end as quickly as possible, with devotees encouraged to leave “soon” after.

Sport events

Adult amateur team sporting events such as 5v5 will not be permitted until March 29, but elite sport may continue.

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Spectators will be banned from attending sporting events, such as during the March lockdown last year.

Outdoor sports venues such as golf courses, tennis courts and outdoor gymnasiums must also close.

Will I be punished for breaking the rules?

The police can take action against you if you get together in larger groups. This includes stopping illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notice).

You can receive a fixed penalty notice of £ 200 for the first offense, doubling for other offenses to a maximum of £ 6,400.

If you organize or are involved in an illegal gathering of more than 30 people, the police can impose fines of £ 10,000.

What are the rules in other parts of the UK?

Different rules apply to social gatherings elsewhere in the UK.

Nicola Sturgeon has announced that the ‘Stay At Home’ message will be enforceable by law on the Scottish mainland from January 5 at midnight, which is similar to the lockdown put in place in March of last year.

In an address to the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Prime Minister said new restrictions were being put in place in response to the spread of the new variant, which accounts for almost half of all cases in Scotland. The restrictions will remain in place until the end of January, although Ms Sturgeon has not ruled out extending that lockdown if necessary.

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Northern Ireland’s Stormont ministers agreed to impose another Boxing Day lockdown, which included the closure of non-essential shops, close contact services and no-take out hospitality spots. It comes as cases continue to rise in the country.

In Wales, the Welsh government announced details of a four-tier traffic light system on December 11, stating that the country will enter level 4 from December 20, though the domestic mix of Christmas bubbles was allowed on Christmas Day. The rules are similar to level 4 in England, where people have to stay at home except in exceptional circumstances. A level review will take place every 3 weeks.

How can we safely socialize?

A campaign has been launched to encourage people to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, as people are more likely to socialize indoors during fall and winter.

The Hands Face Space campaign urges people to wash their hands, use a mask when necessary, and stay at least two meters apart – or one meter away with a face mask or other precautions .

The campaign says these are the three most effective ways for the public to contain the spread of the virus.



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