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The number of people allowed to meet socially is being reduced from 30 to six in England, amid a rise in coronavirus cases.

What do the new rules mean and how will they be enforced?

What are the new rules on socialising?

The new limit of six people will apply to social gatherings from Monday.

It will apply both indoors and outdoors, and to all ages.

So, gatherings in private homes, venues like pubs and restaurants, and in outdoor spaces like parks will all be affected.

At present, the rules allow up to 30 people from two households, or six from multiple households, to meet outdoors.

Current guidance says you should only socialise indoors with members of up to two households.

The number of people you can meet is different in other parts of the UK.

Can I still go to the pub or to a place of worship?

Yes. Pubs, restaurants, shops and other venues will remain open, but people can only attend in groups of up to six.

Venues should also allow for social distancing between groups.

Similarly, places of worship may remain open but with a limit of six people attending per group.

Will any social events of more than six be allowed?

Some gatherings of more than six people will be allowed, for example:

  • If your household or support bubble is larger than six
  • Where gatherings are for work or education purposes
  • Weddings and funerals
  • Team sports organised in a way limiting the spread of coronavirus

If you live in a household of more than six you can gather in public or private. However, you will not be able to join with anyone from outside of your household.

A full list will be published before the law changes on Monday.

Can I be fined for breaking the rules?

The new measures will mean groups larger than six can be broken up by police.

Members of the group can be fined if they fail to follow the rules. This will be £100 for a first offence, doubling on each further offence up to £3,200.

The government says: “Putting the new, lower limit in law will make it easier for the police to identify and disperse illegal gatherings.

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What are the rules and guidance in other parts of the UK?

If you are meeting outside, the number of people who can gather varies:

There are also different rules for meetings indoors – at your home, or a venue like a pub:

What is the guidance on social distancing?

Each UK nation is advising people to stay 2m (6ft) away from anyone they don’t live with. However, there are some differences:

  • In England, if it’s not possible to be 2m away, you can stay “1m plus” apart. The “plus” means doing something else to limit your possible exposure – like wearing a face covering
  • In Scotland, there are exemptions to the 2m rule in some places – such as pubs and restaurants. Children aged 11 or under do not need to social distance
  • In Wales, the 2m guidance reflects the fact it’s not realistic to stay that far apart somewhere like a hairdresser’s. Primary age children in Wales are also exempt
  • Northern Ireland‘s guidance was 1m (3ft) for a time, but is now back at 2m

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What about shopping or public transport?

Face coverings are compulsory if you are using public transport across the UK.

Some people are exempt, such as those with certain medical conditions.

Coverings must be worn in shops in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland – but not Wales.

Shop workers are exempt.

What if I get symptoms?

You should self-isolate by staying at home for 10 days and arrange to get tested.

The symptoms are:

  • new continuous cough
  • high temperature
  • loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell

If your test is positive, you must complete the remainder of your 10-day self-isolation. Anyone you live with should self isolate for 14 days (from the time you started having symptoms).

Contact tracers will also get in touch with people with positive results.

What are the rules in local lockdown areas?

There are several local hotspots which have seen recent spikes in cases.

Public Health England produces a weekly watchlist of areas of concern.

Parts of England and Scotland are currently experiencing local restrictions. In Wales, the county borough of Caerphilly is being placed under lockdown.

Do I have to social distance myself from everyone?

The only people you do not have to distance yourself from are those you live with or, if you are in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland, people in your support bubble.

Single adults living alone or single parents with children under 18 can “bubble” with one other household of any size with no social distancing.

In Wales, you do not have to social distance if you are in an “extended household”.

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CoronaVirus translator

What do all these terms mean?

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  • Antibodies test

    A medical test that can show if a person has had the coronavirus and now has some immunity. The test detects antibodies in the blood, which are produced by the body to fight off the disease.

  • Asymptomatic

    Someone who has a disease but does not have any of the symptoms it causes. Some studies suggest some people with coronavirus carry the disease but don’t show the common symptoms, such as a persistent cough or high temperature.

  • Containment phase

    The first part of the UK’s strategy to deal with the coronavirus, which involved trying to identify infected people early and trace anyone who had been in close contact with them.

  • Coronavirus

    One of a group of viruses that can cause severe or mild illness in humans and animals. The coronavirus currently sweeping the world causes the disease Covid-19. The common cold and influenza (flu) are other types of coronaviruses.

  • Covid-19

    The disease caused by the coronavirus first detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. It primarily affects the lungs.

  • Delay phase

    The second part of the UK’s strategy to deal with the coronavirus, in which measures such as social distancing are used to delay its spread.

  • Fixed penalty notice

    A fine designed to deal with an offence on the spot, instead of in court. These are often for driving offences, but now also cover anti-social behaviour and breaches of the coronavirus lockdown.

  • Flatten the curve

    Health experts use a line on a chart to show numbers of new coronavirus cases. If a lot of people get the virus in a short period of time, the line might rise sharply and look a bit like a mountain. However, taking measures to reduce infections can spread cases out over a longer period and means the “curve” is flatter. This makes it easier for health systems to cope.

  • Flu

    Short for influenza, a virus that routinely causes disease in humans and animals, in seasonal epidemics.

  • Furlough

    Supports firms hit by coronavirus by temporarily helping pay the wages of some staff. It allows employees to remain on the payroll, even though they aren’t working.

  • Herd immunity

    How the spread of a disease slows after a sufficiently large proportion of a population has been exposed to it.

  • Immune

    A person whose body can withstand or fend off a disease is said to be immune to it. Once a person has recovered from the disease caused by the coronavirus, Covid-19, for example, it is thought they cannot catch it again for a certain period of time.

  • Incubation period

    The period of time between catching a disease and starting to display symptoms.

  • Intensive care

    Hospital wards which treat patients who are very ill. They are run by specially-trained healthcare staff and contain specialist equipment.

  • Lockdown

    Restrictions on movement or daily life, where public buildings are closed and people told to stay at home. Lockdowns have been imposed in several countries as part of drastic efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Mitigation phase

    The third part of the UK’s strategy to deal with the coronavirus, which will involve attempts to lessen the impact of a high number of cases on public services. This could mean the NHS halting all non-critical care and police responding to major crimes and emergencies only.

  • NHS 111

    The NHS’s 24-hour phone and online service, which offers medical advice to anyone who needs it. People in England and Wales are advised to ring the service if they are worried about their symptoms. In Scotland, they should check NHS inform, then ring their GP in office hours or 111 out of hours. In Northern Ireland, they should call their GP.

  • Outbreak

    Multiple cases of a disease occurring rapidly, in a cluster or different locations.

  • Pandemic

    An epidemic of serious disease spreading rapidly in many countries simultaneously.

  • Phase 2

    This is when the UK will start to lift some of its lockdown rules while still trying to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

  • PPE

    PPE, or personal protective equipment, is clothing and kit such as masks, aprons, gloves and goggles used by medical staff, care workers and others to protect themselves against infection from coronavirus patients and other people who might be carrying the disease.

  • Quarantine

    The isolation of people exposed to a contagious disease to prevent its spread.

  • R0

    R0, pronounced “R-naught”, is the average number of people who will catch the disease from a single infected person. If the R0 of coronavirus in a particular population is 2, then on average each case will create two more new cases. The value therefore gives an indication of how much the infection could spread.

  • Recession

    This happens when there is a significant drop in income, jobs and sales in a country for two consecutive three-month periods.

  • Sars

    Severe acute respiratory syndrome, a type of coronavirus that emerged in Asia in 2003.

  • Self-isolation

    Staying inside and avoiding all contact with other people, with the aim of preventing the spread of a disease.

  • Social distancing

    Keeping away from other people, with the aim of slowing down transmission of a disease. The government advises not seeing friends or relatives other than those you live with, working from home where possible and avoiding public transport.

  • State of emergency

    Measures taken by a government to restrict daily life while it deals with a crisis. This can involve closing schools and workplaces, restricting the movement of people and even deploying the armed forces to support the regular emergency services.

  • Statutory instrument

    These can be used by government ministers to implement new laws or regulations, or change existing laws. They are an easier alternative to passing a full Act of Parliament.

  • Symptoms

    Any sign of disease, triggered by the body’s immune system as it attempts to fight off the infection. The main symptoms of the coronavirus are a fever, dry cough and shortness of breath.

  • Vaccine

    A treatment that causes the body to produce antibodies, which fight off a disease, and gives immunity against further infection.

  • Ventilator

    A machine that takes over breathing for the body when disease has caused the lungs to fail.

  • Virus

    A tiny agent that copies itself inside the living cells of any organism. Viruses can cause these cells to die and interrupt the body’s normal chemical processes, causing disease.

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