Social Contact

These new restrictions take effect from 14 September. They are set out in the law, and the police and other enforcement officers are able to issue penalties to those that don’t comply. Further information on these changes can be found in the relevant section below.

Detailed guidance on the new rules on how to meet people safely, including our changes to gatherings rules, can be found here.

The rules on who you can meet changed on Monday 14 September. There is further guidance on meeting with others safely.

Please note that if you live in Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull these rules must be followed as well as the new restrictions including a ban on households mixing in affected areas. for details on local restrictions click here. 

 

Can I visit people indoors?

Yes.

There is a legal limit on the number of people you don’t live with you are able to meet. When meeting with people you don’t live with you can socialise in groups of up to 6.

You should continue to maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with. There is further guidance on meeting others safely, which includes details of exemptions from this limit, including for larger households and support bubbles.

 

How many people am I allowed to meet with outdoors?

When meeting with people you don’t live with (or have formed a support bubble with) you can socialise in groups of up to 6. You should continue to maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with. There is further guidance on meeting with others safely, which includes details of exemptions from this limit, including for larger households and support bubbles.

 

Can I use public transport if I’m seeing friends in a park or going to my parents’ garden?

You can help control coronavirus and travel safely by walking and cycling, if you can. However where this is not possible, you can use public transport or drive. If you do use public transport, you must wear a face covering and you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.

 

Are children counted in the group of 6?

Yes.

 

Can I share a private vehicle with someone from another household?

You should try not to share a vehicle with those outside your household or social bubble. If you need to, try to:

  • share the transport with the same people each time
  • keep to small groups of people of up to the legal limit of 6 people at any one time (this limit of 6 people will apply and have legal force from 14 September).
  • open windows for ventilation
  • travel side by side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow
  • face away from each other
  • consider seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle
  • clean your car between journeys using standard cleaning products – make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch
  • make sure the driver and passengers wear a face covering

The Department for Transport has provided specific guidance on using private vehicles. Please see their guidance on private cars and other vehicles for more information on car sharing and traveling with people outside your household group.

 

Can I stay overnight in someone else’s home?

Yes, you can stay overnight in someone else’s home, but only if you do not form a gathering of more than 6 people. This limit does not apply if you are in a support bubble with the person whose home you are staying in.

You should ensure you maintain social distancing with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble. Take particular care to maintain excellent hygiene – washing hands and surfaces – especially when using shared facilities like bathrooms wherever possible.

People in the same support bubble can stay overnight with each other in larger groups as they count as one household.

 

Can I look after my grandchildren?

Yes. People in groups of up to 6 can meet indoors or outdoors, which enables you to spend time with your grandchildren (although whole families may not be able to meet up at once). We recognise that grandparents and other relatives often provide informal childcare for young children, and this can be very important. Although you should try to maintain social distance from people you do not live with wherever possible, it may not always be practicable to do so when providing care to a young child or infant. If this is this case – and where young children may struggle to keep social distance – you should still limit close contact as much as possible, and take other precautions such as washing hands and clothes regularly.

If you have formed a support bubble with your grandchildren’s household, which is allowed if either you or they live in a ‘single adult household’, then there can be close contact and social distancing is not necessary.

 

Can I gather in a group of more than 6 for childcare?

There is an exemption to the legal gatherings limit which comes into force on 14 September for the purposes of education, training, formal registered childcare, and supervised activities for children (including before and after school clubs, or other out-of-school setting provision for children. Youth groups and other children’s groups will also be exempt from the gatherings limit. Family and friends can continue to provide informal childcare as long as groups from different households don’t exceed 6 people.

 

Is there a limit on the number of people attending funerals?

The new legal gatherings limit of 6 does not apply to funerals. For funerals, there is a higher, legal gatherings limit of 30 people. You should still socially distance from people you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with). Funeral providers will limit capacity based on how many people they can safely accommodate with social distancing in place.

This higher limit only applies to the funeral ceremony itself – other than for religious, ceremonial purposes, wakes should not take place in groups of more than 6.

The guidance on funerals can be found here.

 

Can weddings go ahead?

Yes, wedding ceremonies, civil partnerships and receptions (sit down meals in COVID-19 Secure venues) are allowed to take place in venues or in public outdoor spaces.

Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies can have gatherings of up to 30 in COVID-19 Secure venues or public outdoor spaces.

Wedding receptions can have gatherings of up to 30 in COVID-19 Secure venues.

Within these larger gatherings, people do not need to limit their interaction to groups of 6, but social distancing should still be followed between people not in the same household or support bubble.

See further guidance on wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships.

 

When can I gather in groups of more than 6?

If you live in a household with more than 6 people, you can continue to gather in and attend all settings together. This same applies for your support bubbles. All venues should continue to accommodate groups larger than 6 who live together or are in the same support bubble to gather in and use their services and venues.

There are exceptions where groups can be larger than 6 people, including:

  • for work, or the provision of voluntary or charitable services
  • registered childcare, education or training
  • supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups
  • providing support to a vulnerable person
  • providing emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm
  • to continue existing arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents
  • fulfilling a legal obligation such as attending court or jury service
  • weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions – up to 30 people, in a public place
  • funerals – up to 30 people. This does not include wakes, other than for religious ceremonial purposes.
  • other religious and belief-based life cycle ceremonies – up to 30 people, in a public place. This only covers the ceremonies, and does not include celebrations of these events.
  • organised sport or exercises classes or licensed outdoor physical activity. This does not include informal sport or fitness activity with family or friends – this must be limited to a group of 6.
  • elite sporting competition and training
  • support groups – formally organised groups to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support. This includes support to victims of crime, recovering addicts, new parents, people with long-term illnesses, those facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, and those who have suffered bereavement.
  • protests – if organised in compliance with COVID-19 Secure guidance

Where a group includes someone covered by one of these exemptions, they are not counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means, for example, that a tradesperson can go into a household of six without breaching the limit if they are there for work.

 

Does this mean that no more than six people can be in a pub, restaurant or place of worship at once?

Venues following COVID-19 Secure guidelines can host more than 6 people in total, but no one should visit in a group of greater than 6 (unless you are all from the same household or support bubble). When you visit one of these places, such as a pub, shop, leisure venue, restaurant or place of worship you should:

  • follow the limits on the number of other people you should meet with as a group (it will be illegal to be in group of more than six from outside of your household or support bubble)
  • avoid mingling with anyone outside the group you are with, even if you see other people you know
  • provide your contact details to the organiser so that you can be contacted if needed by the NHS Test and Trace programme

 

Can I have a celebration for significant or ceremonial life events, other than weddings?

The legal gatherings limit of six people does not apply to standalone religious and belief-based life cycle ceremonies, such as christenings and bar/batmitzvahs. You can have up to 30 people at these events, provided they take place in a public place. This includes events to mark or celebrate a significant milestone in a person’s life, according to their religion or belief, such as events to celebrate a person’s birth (other than a birthday) or coming of age; or to mark a person’s death or celebrate their life following their death.

This does not include celebrations of these events – receptions are only permitted for weddings and civil partnerships.

You should socially distance wherever possible from people you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with).

 

Do I have to socially distance from my partner / boyfriend / girlfriend?

People in an established relationship do not need to socially distance. If in the early stages of a relationship, you should take particular care to follow the guidance on social distancing. If you intend to have close contact with someone, you should discuss how you can help to prevent risks of transmission as a couple, for example, by ensuring you are both avoiding close contact with people you do not live with.

 

How will the new rules on gatherings be enforced?

The police will be able to enforce these legal limits, and if you break them you could face a fine (fixed penalty notice) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200. Later this month, hospitality businesses will also be required to ensure there are no unlawful gatherings in their premises. We know the majority of businesses are responsible and are taking the necessary steps to be COVID-19 Secure, but for those businesses who won’t take those steps, egregious breaches will be enforced.

Anyone organising a gathering (such as a rave or house party) of more than 30 could face a £10,000 fine.