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What are the rules on social gatherings?

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From 30th September mixing between households in any indoor setting, such as pubs and restaurants, will be against the law. 

If you live in the affected local areas, you must not (unless they’re in your support or childcare bubble):

  • host people you do not live with in your home or garden
  • meet people you do not live with in their home or garden, whether inside or outside the affected local area
  • socialise with people who you do not live with in indoor settings, whether inside or outside of the affected local areas
  • Your household is defined as the people you live with and any support bubble

support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household (on an exclusive basis). Households within a bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight, and visit public places together.

A childcare bubble is where someone in one household can provide informal (i.e. unpaid and unregistered) childcare to a child aged 13 or under in another household. This must occur on an exclusive basis - always the same two households.

The police will be able to take action against those who break these rules, including asking people to disperse and issuing fixed penalty notices starting at £200 for those who participate in illegal gatherings.

People aged 18 or over can be fined:

  • £200 for the first offence, lowered to £100 if paid within 14 days
  • £400 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £6,400

The government has also introduced fines for those who hold illegal gatherings of over 30 people. Holding or being involved in the holding of an illegal gathering of more than 30 people is an offence, and police may issue fines of £10,000 to those who break the law.

Gatherings within indoor settings, as well as your home or garden can still take place for specific purposes set out in law:

  • where everyone in the gathering lives together or is in the same support bubble
  • to attend a birth at the mother’s request
  • to visit a person who is dying
  • to fulfil a legal obligation
  • for work purposes (see guidance on working safely in other people’s homes), or for the provision of voluntary or charitable services
  • for the purposes of education or training
  • for the purposes of childcare provided by a registered provider and informal childcare as part of a childcare bubble
  • to provide emergency assistance
  • to enable one or more persons in the gathering to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm
  • to facilitate a house move
  • to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
  • to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents.

When meeting friends and family you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) you must not meet in a group of more than 6. Further detail can be found in the guidance for meeting others safely, including associated exemptions. In the areas affected local areas, we also advise that you should not:

  • meet with people you do not live with, unless they’re in your support bubble, in any outdoor public venues. This includes outdoor areas of venues (such as a beer garden) and areas directly outside of settings or venues, such as the pavement or road and parks. This applies to inside and outside of the affected local areas.
  • visit friends or family in care homes, other than in exceptional circumstances. Care homes should restrict visits to these circumstances

Although access to education and work settings are exempt from this new law, you must follow social distancing rules in University buildings and on University land. These includenot mixing with other households, following our one-way systems, staying 2m apart from others, wearing face coverings when required to do so and regularly washing/sanitising your hands. 

When seeing friends and family that are not part of your household in an outdoor setting you should:

  • follow social distancing rules
  • limit how many different people you see socially over a short period of time

The new health protection restrictions for the North East of England including where the affected areas are can be found HERE