London, Sep 15 (IANS) In order to curb the rise in coronavirus cases, tough new limits on social gatherings has come into force in the UK, meaning that in most regions, it is now illegal for groups of more than six to meet up.
The “rule of six” kicked off on Monday midnight across England, Wales and Scotland in the latest push to curb the recent surge in coronavirus infections, reports Xinhua news agency.
The new rule applies across indoor and outdoor settings, with police able to disperse gatherings of over six people and fine individuals involved.
The new restrictions were imposed after the country’s reproduction, or R, number escalated to between one and 1.2 for the first time since March.
On Sunday, more than 3,000 Covid-19 cases were reported for the third day in a row — the first time since May.
The new “rule of six” simplifies and strengthens the rules on social gatherings, making it easier for Britons to understand and for the police to enforce.
Apart from a set of limited exemptions including work and education, any social gatherings of more than six people will be against the law.
Police officers have been authorised to disperse any unlawful gatherings and fine individuals 100 pounds ($128), doubling up to a maximum of 3,200 pounds.
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 pounds.
“As we continue to fight this virus, I urge the public not participate in social gatherings of more than six people in any setting, indoors or outdoors,” Home Secretary Priti Patel told reporters on Monday.
Meanwhile, Kit Malthouse, the MP for North West Hampshire, encouraged people to use the non-emergency phone number to report any suspected violations.
“We are in discussions about what reporting mechanisms there might be, but there is obviously the non-emergency number that people can ring and report issues they wish to,” he said.
A recent survey carried out by the British Medical Association (BMA) found that 86 per cent of doctors in England anticipated a “second wave” of the coronavirus pandemic in the country in the next six months.
In a poll of more than 8,000 doctors and medical students, 53.66 per cent of respondents viewed a second wave as “very likely”, while a further 32.05 per cent answered “quite likely”, local media reported on Monday.
Nearly 50 per cent said that a second peak was their top concern for the health service this winter, while the capacity to deal with the ongoing coronavirus cases as well as the restart other routine care appointments was most concerning for over 35 per cent of respondents.
As of Tuesday, the overall Covid-19 caseload in the UK increased to 373,553, while the death toll stood at 41,726.