By Rachael Grealish
The Prime Minister has confirmed the ‘rule of six’ will come in to effect from Monday, September 14, following a rise in COVID-19 cases.
Speaking from Downing Street in a press conference today, Wednesday September 9, Boris Johnson said the government is ‘simplifying and strengthening’ the rules around social distancing.
Whilst speaking to the country the PM said this new measure replaces current guidance and people only need to remember the rule of six.
There are exceptions: if a household or support gathering is bigger than six, it can still meet.
He said gatherings like church services can go ahead – but people should socially distance, and not meet in groups of more than six.
The PM added two households cannot meet if they make a group bigger than six and said he knows this is difficult, but as PM ‘he has to do what is necessary to keep people safe’.
Johnson continued to say pubs and restaurants will by law have to take contact details for tracing purposes and will be fined if they don’t.
Local authorities will introduce “Covid-secure marshals” and will also get help from environmental safety officers.
The Border Force will step up enforcement action at the border.
And plans to pilot larger audiences in stadiums and to allow conferences to go ahead from October will be put on hold.
However the PM said his priority is to keep schools and colleges open.
He said they should only be closed as a last resort and the health risks from closing them ‘would be far, far greater’.
As cases rise again Johnson was asked if the furlough scheme would be extended, but the PM said: “The government wants to do everything it can,” but added, “the problem with the furlough scheme is that it just keeps people in suspended animation.”
Why change the measures now?
These new measures are being implemented now due to the latest figures, Johnson said.
Coronavirus cases in the UK have gone up significantly – the last week they have risen from around 12.5 cases per 100,000 to around 19.7 cases per 100,000.
Among young people , the increase is much higher, not just because more people are getting tested but the percentage positive rate has gone up too.
Amongst 17 and 18-year-olds, there are now around 48.1 cases per 100,000. And the percentage positive rate is 6.1 percent.
Amongst 19 to 21-year-olds, there are now around 54.5 cases per 100,000. And the percentage positive rate is 5.1 percent.
And amongst 20 to 29-year-olds, there are now around 41.6 cases per 100,000. And the percentage positive rate is 3.7 percent.
Officials says the impact of this on hospital numbers will initially be relatively modest, because young people tend not to be affected too badly.
But they say that, in other countries, if case numbers increase amongst the young, this eventually moves up the age bands, affecting people who are much more at risk.
The government has not adjusted its estimate for R, the reproduction number, because that is updated every Friday. But officials are working on the assumption that is it now above 1.