Rule of six can seem somewhat irrational, says scientist

The Government's new rule of six can seem "somewhat irrational" at times, but the alternative could be a wider lockdown, a top scientist has said.

From Monday, it will be illegal for people in England to meet in groups of more than six, inside or outside.

Fines can be issued to anyone found flouting the rules, starting at £100, but which could climb to £3,200.

Professor Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London and an adviser to the Government on respiratory viruses said the rule "does seem somewhat irrational in some of the detail and I can appreciate that".

However, he added: "I'm afraid it's going to cause pain and suffering for us all to go back to some degree of lockdown but I'm afraid if we don't do this now we're going to be right back in hard lockdown.

Questioned further on what he meant by "irrational", Prof Openshaw explained to Sky's Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: "I think people have been complaining widely about the fact that you can carry on doing things like exercising in groups and doing sports and getting together for special events, but yet you can't have both a grandmother and a grandfather come to visit your home if you're a family-of-five.

"It is inevitably going to create those difficulties which are hard to explain."

But he added: "It is on the other hand very simple."

HEALTH Coronavirus
HEALTH Coronavirus

The new restrictions follow a steep rise in Covid-19 cases across the UK, with ministers particularly concerned about the number of positive cases among young people aged 17 to 21.

People with large families have urged ministers to rethink the restrictions to not include children.

Sarah Pearson, 41, from Norwich, has six children, five of whom are at school and live with her at home.

The rule means she would face a fine of £100 if the group met with anyone outside the family, leaving them once again isolated after months in lockdown.

She told the PA news agency that the rules will "will cause tears".

"I am already the parent being strict and saying we play outside and no to sleepovers when others are doing them. And we are being careful. It's another thing that separates them from friends."