The new COVID-19 rules described in 'one simple sentence'

 Members of public wearing face masks walk past a "Social Distancing" sign at Regents Street during coronavirus pandemic. It is mandatory to wear face masks while travelling. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
New COVID-19 rules are clear and can be summed up easily, the health secretary has insisted. (Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
  • Gatherings of more than six people in England will be banned from Monday, except in certain instances such as funerals

  • The move comes after a spike in COVID-19 cases

  • Matt Hancock has insisted the rules are clear and easily summarised

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New COVID-19 rules for England that limit gatherings to up to six people in most circumstances can be summed up in a single sentence, the health secretary has insisted.

Matt Hancock was responding to criticism that the rules are unclear, an accusation that has been levied at the government since lockdown started to ease.

From Monday, it will become illegal to gather in groups of more than six people in England except for certain situations, as authorities try to get a grip on the sharp rise in newly recorded infections.

Watch: What are the latest rules on social gatherings in England?

Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Hancock said: “The rules are really simple, I can say them in a sentence.

“Which is, you can’t gather in groups of more than six except for schools, work, those exceptional life events, and it’s super-simple.”

Life events include weddings and funerals, he said earlier on the programme.

Breaches of the law will result in a £100 fine for the first offence.

Read more: ‘It's worrying’: COVID researchers’ warning as coronavirus R rate ‘rises to 1.2’

Hancock said the government is “going to bring more clarity and we’re going to enforce the rules more strictly”.

He said the police had asked for simpler rules, clarity and strong enforcement powers.

The change in law was announced after a spike in COVID-19 cases, which Hancock and chief medical officer for England Chris Whitty said appears to be driven by infections in young people.

A total of 2,460 new cases were reported on Tuesday, following the 2,948 reported on Monday and 2,988 on Sunday.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock delivers a speech on the future of the NHS at the Royal College of Physicians in central London.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said the government will bring more clarity and enforce the rules more strictly. (PA)

The health secretary has insisted that abiding by COVID-19 rules is “absolutely vital to protect life”.

He told Sky News: “We have seen the increase in the number of cases sadly in the last few days.

“We have seen across Europe there is a second wave that many countries have experienced – some of those countries have then got that second wave under control.

“We are determined to take the action that keeps people safe.”

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