Rule of six comes into effect to tackle coronavirus

Rule applies across indoor and outdoor settings, with police able to disperse gatherings of over six people and fine individuals involved

New laws prohibiting social gatherings of more than six people come into effect today (Monday 14 September) as the Government calls on the public to remain vigilant in the fight against coronavirus.

The new “rule of six” simplifies and strengthens the rules on social gatherings, making them easier to understand and easier for the police to enforce.

It means that – 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 will be able to disperse any such gatherings and fine individuals involved £100, doubling up to a maximum of £3,200.

Home Secretary Priti Patel held a call with Chief Constables to support police enforcement of the law.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

Across the country, we have all made enormous sacrifices in the fight against coronavirus. However, the recent rise in cases makes it clear that more needs to be done to stop the spread of this disease.

From Monday new laws will enable the police to fine anyone in breach of the rule of six. 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.

The rule of six will be enforceable in law from Monday 14th September.

The change follows a rapid increase in the number of daily positive cases. The Government, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor all agreed that urgent action was necessary to stop the virus spreading and continue to protect the NHS.

The rule applies across England and replaces the existing ban on participating in gatherings of more than 30 and the current guidance on allowing two households to meet indoors.

Now the only rule that people need to remember is to not participate in social gatherings of more than six people in any setting, indoors or outdoors.

It remains the case that 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.

The Prime Minister has spoken to police forces about enforcement and the new lower limit will make it easier for police to identify illegal gatherings.

Police have continued to step up patrols in recent weeks and have cracked down on illegal gatherings during the pandemic. Deployments in some areas of concern – such as Leicester and Greater Manchester – have been larger than on New Year’s Eve.

The police will continue their tried and tested approach of engaging with the public, explaining the rules, encouraging gatherings to disperse, but will be empowered to enforce the rules and issue fines where needed.

Exemptions include cases where a single household or support bubble is larger than six people. The rule also does not apply to gatherings for work or education purposes, and to other gatherings including weddings, funerals, and team sports organised in a COVID-19 secure way.

Venues following COVID-19 secure guidelines – such as places of worships, gyms, restaurants and other hospitality venues – can still hold more than six people in total. But within those venues, there must not be individual groups larger than six, and groups must not mix socially or form larger groups.

View the full list of exemptions

You can read the full Rule of 6 Regulations here

New measures and restrictions to take effect 14 September


From today 14 September new measures are in effect, including a restriction on social gatherings of more than six people and a requirement for businesses to collect visitor data to support the NHS Test and Trace system.

Review what people can and can’t do, and note that locations impacted by local lockdown measures may be subject to different rules.

The guidance on working safely during COVID-19 has been updated with priority actions for businesses to take, including steps for collecting information for the Test and Trace system and rules on gatherings of more than six people. Sector-specific guidance is available for the following:

Following requests for more detail. Please see the following clarifications from DCMS:

  • COVID-19 secure venues will be able to host business events of up to 30 people taking into account Visitor Economy guidance, including social distancing requirements.
  • The intention remains to reopen exhibition and conference centres from the 1st October but this will need to be continually assessed in light of the recent spike in cases.
  • If it is possible to ensure that groups of more than six do not mingle on a guided tour, it can go ahead. This would potentially be the case for a day trip or shorter tours of a visitor attraction.


Scotland has also introduced new lockdown measures effective today 14 September.

  • Social gatherings are restricted to a maximum six people from two households. This applies indoors and outdoors, in private and public spaces including homes, gardens, parks, pubs and restaurants. Children under the age of 12 are not counted in the rule of six.
  • Face coverings are mandated for customers and staff in indoor hospitality, with exceptions for when customers are eating or drinking, and for non-public facing roles where face coverings may present health and safety issues


From today 14 September, new measures are in effect to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Wales.

  • It is compulsory for people over the age of 11 to wear face coverings in public indoor spaces, with limited exceptions. Face coverings are not required in pubs, although this remains under review.
  • No more than six people may gather indoors at any one time, and they must be from the same household or pre-established social bubble, which can be formed from up to four households joining together. Children under the age of 11 are not counted in the rule of six.

Correct as of 14 September 2020