The coronavirus ‘rule of six’ went into effect in England on Monday, meaning any social gathering of more than six people is breaking the law.
People will face fines of up to £ 3,200 for not complying with the new measure, which applies both indoors and outdoors, and follows a rapid increase in daily positive cases.
Regulations that allowed enforcement of the rule were published late Sunday night, about 30 minutes before they took effect.
More than 3,000 cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the UK for the third day in a row on Sunday – the first time since May that there were more than 3,000 cases on three consecutive days.
The new law stems from concerns about an increase in nursing home cases and growing criticism of the NHS Test and Trace system.
Aside from limited exemptions, including work and training, the police will be able to disperse rallies of more than six people and issue fines ranging from £ 100 to £ 3,200.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, who is in charge of the Metropolitan Police’s response to the coronavirus, said officers in every neighborhood will be deployed to patrol public areas and respond quickly to incidents involving groups gathering in large numbers.
“Where people just don’t want to listen and put everyone in danger, we will absolutely take enforcement action,” he said.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the recent increase in the number of cases “makes it clear that more needs to be done to stop the spread of this disease.”
The rule applies throughout England and replaces the existing ban on attending meetings of more than 30 and the current guidelines to allow two households to meet indoors.
Martin Hewitt, chairman of the board of police chiefs, has urged the public to “stick to the borders”.
He said: “Preventing the spread of the coronavirus is a concerted effort and the police play our role alongside the government, businesses, hospitality owners, local authorities and others.
“Officers in their community follow our approach to engage, explain and encourage people to follow the rules. We will impose fines if people refuse to comply.
“The demands placed on the police are now on the same level as before the pandemic, making it critical that we all take personal responsibility, stick to borders and prevent the spread of this deadly virus.”
Meanwhile, a study suggests that a second spike is of greatest concern among physicians seeking to avoid a return to the “horror and tragedy” of the pandemic’s early days.
The British Medical Association (BMA) poll found that 86% of over 8,000 doctors and medical students in England said a second peak was likely or very likely in the next six months.
Dr. Chaand Nagpaul, BMA Council Chairman, said: “With daily cases still alarmingly high and winter just around the corner, we are at a crucial crossroads in the fight against this deadly virus.
“Every effort must be made to avoid a repeat of the horror and tragedy we all experienced earlier this year.”
Officials hope the warm and sunny weather forecast for Monday doesn’t encourage people to get out in groups.
Temperatures of up to 29C (84F) are expected in some areas, according to the Met Office.
The government said there were 3,330 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK as of 9:00 a.m. on Sunday.
Harsh new Covid-19 lockdown measures were announced Friday for parts of the UK as cases continued to rise and the R number – the reproduction number of coronavirus transmission – climbed above one.
According to government advisers, the last time R was above one was in early March.