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A CRACKDOWN on household gatherings is set to be introduced in days with more £100 fines on the cards for people who break the law.
Ministers are meeting today to sign off on what could be the first new national rules in months, after two days of recording almost 3,000 covid cases.
An announcement is expected to be made tomorrow but no firm decisions have yet been made, it’s understood.
Sources said there would be a “toughening up” of the rules to stop the spread as scientists feared it was already spreading across the country.
The current guidelines mean people should not meet up with more than one other household inside – but this isn’t strictly enforced and is not in law.
Instead the law states that that no more than 30 people should gather in one place – and people can only be fined if they exceed that.
The law could be changed so police will be able to fine people in a group of more than six £100 each, or £10,000 if they organised it.
The final decisions are still being made and Boris Johnson held a Cabinet meeting this morning with his top team.
The Cabinet got updates from Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance today on the current situation.
The PM told Cabinet today that “in other countries which had seen an increase in infections, this was followed a number of weeks later by a rise in hospitalisations.
“The PM said that what had taken place elsewhere was that young people had gone on to infect older generations, who had become seriously ill, and it was vital to ensure that did not happen here.
“The PM said the Government must remain extremely vigilant and ensure that there was no complacency from the public, and young people in particular, in following the guidance on how to prevent the virus from spreading.”
And 2,948 cases were recorded on Monday too, leading scientists to believe a second spike is underway.
The news comes just weeks before young people are expected to return to university – with freshers’ weeks bashes set to be curbed thanks to the virus.
Mr Jenrick told Sky News this morning: “There is a concerning rise in cases and it reminds us that we have to keep following the guidance.
“Although we are encouraged to return to the workplace to support jobs, cafes and so on, we need to do so responsibly.
“As we approach the autumn and winter there is going to be even more responsibility on all of us to keep following the guidelines.
“Nobody wants to see a return to full national restrictions of the kind we had earlier this year.”
But there hasn’t been a similar rise in the number of people going into hospital and dying of the virus.
This is thought to be because young people are able to shake off the virus more easily and are less likely to become seriously ill.
Yes – you can meet other households outside but still should try and stay 2m apart where you can.
You should stay in groups of six people from different households, but this is not written in law.
The maximum amount of people you can meet without it being deemed as a ‘mass gathering’ in law – is 30.
A gathering of 30 people or more can lead to £100 fines for everyone who attends, and a £10,000 fine for the organisers.
Businesses and venues which comply with the Covid-19 guidelines can host groups for weddings and funerals but they are recommended to be kept to 30 maximum. However, this is not the law.
In Scotland no more than 15 people from a maximum of five households can meet outside at one time, and this is the same in Northern Ireland too.
Yes – but only people from one other household at a time. You can only meet a maximum of six people from two different households at once, and you should maintain a social distance if you can.
In Scotland no more than eight people from a maximum of three households are allowed to meet at a time.
In Wales people should not gather indoors with anyone who is not part of their household or extended household – they can form one with up to four households.
You can stay overnight with one other household. You should still socially distance from other households when you can.
Yes. Even people who have been shielding have been told it’s now safe for them to return to the offices.
The Government says people should talk to their employers about returning to their place of work.
Schools, nurseries and colleges are now open for all children and young people. Universities will open in the coming weeks.
From mid-August casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, soft play areas and remaining close contact services were allowed to start again.
From October 1, the Government wants to bring back audiences in stadiums and allow conference events again – but only if the virus stays low level.
In November the Government has said it wants to “scale back remaining social distancing measures” and open other venues such as nightclubs.
You should not socialise in groups of more than two households inside, or more than six households outside.
Rules are different in Scotland – with kids in school having to wear them in communal areas.
Only children in lockdown areas in England need to wear masks in corridors and other rooms. They don’t need to wear them in the classrooms unless the school has said so.
England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said a surge in cases in the 17 to 21 age group has now become increasingly worrying – as they may then go on to pass the virus onto their parents, and grandparents.
This could see a huge spike in the current death rate as older people are less likely to be able to fight it.
Mr Van Tam added the wild parties witnessed across the country after lockdown measures were eased have now started to take their toll.
He revealed the “downstream consequences” of the gatherings are that the country is now seeing increased cases of transmission and faces a “bumpy ride” ahead.
Prof Van-Tam added: “I am quite concerned that we must take this seriously so that we don’t end up with a spreading problem over the next few weeks and months.”
Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the latest increase in coronavirus cases is “very worrying”.
He told Radio 4: “That is what we are really keeping a close eye on – the extent to which it moves away from these local outbreaks to broader community transmission.”
The Director of NHS testing warned this morning they were currently unable to provide coronavirus tests after labs reached a “critical pinch-point”.
Sarah-Jane Marsh said earlier: “Can I please offer my heartfelt apologies to anyone who cannot get a COVID test at present.
“All of our testing sites have capacity, which is why they don’t look overcrowded, its our laboratory processing that is the critical pinch-point.
Andy Thompson, 38, a technical manager from Crewe, said his six-year-old daughter is home from school with a continuous cough, but has so far been unable to get a home test.
He told the PA news agency: “It’s an absolute shambles. No home tests available. And now the nearest test centre is Oldham, a 100-mile round-trip with a sick child.
“I didn’t realise how bad it is. If you haven’t got a car, no way you’re getting tested.”
Mr Hancock told MPs this morning it would take “weeks” until they could sort out the issues.
Police have been forced to shut down house parties and illegal raves as some continue to flaunt coronavirus restrictions.
John Edmunds, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, told ITV’s Robert Peston last night that the next few months could be crucial.
He even hinted that Christmas could be at risk, saying: “The epidemic continues to increase and then we have Christmas.
“And that is very difficult. What is Christmas? Well it’s meeting with your family very close. Restaurants and pubs and stuff like that.
He said the R rate was now above one and the UK was in a “risky period”.
He said: “We can see the epidemic is taking off again. So I don’t think we’ve hit that sweet spot where we’ve been able to control the epidemic and allow the economy to return to some sort of normality.”
David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation’s special envoy for the global COVID-19 response also warned today that a second wave of coronavirus “is coming” for the UK.
People won’t be allowed to leave the county except for a reasonable excuse – sich as work or to care for someone.
Everyone over the age of 11 will have to wear face coverings in shops for the first time too.
Asked if that meant the local lockdown would remain in the area until October, Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething replied: “Yes, at the very least – I can’t overstate the seriousness of the position that we’re in.”
He added: “The evidence and advice that I’ve had from our scientific and medical advisers is that we’re unlikely to see a significant change until two to three weeks, to see the impact these measures are having.”
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World news – GB – Crackdown looms for household gatherings with £100 fines after coronavirus cases spike