Coronavirus: gatherings of more than six to be banned in England

Coronavirus: gatherings of more than six to be banned in England

  • Government will announce emergency action to strengthen rules and aid police enforcement

The government has announced emergency action to try and stem a feared autumn resurgence of coronavirus, tightening laws to ban virtually all gatherings of more than six people in England.

Amid concerns that the current rules are both widely misunderstood and too difficult for police to implement, Boris Johnson will hold a hastily-arranged Downing Street press conference on Wednesday to outline the new restrictions.

The dramatic change of approach by No 10 follows a sudden spike in the number of people being infected with the virus, with almost 8,500 positive tests being recorded in England in the last three days.

On Tuesday ministers added Bolton to the number of cities and towns under local lockdowns, restricting restaurants and pubs to takeaways and forcing all venues to close from 10pm to 5am.

Bottlenecks in laboratories processing Covid tests have hampered the government’s attempts to keep on top of the pandemic. The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, warned that the test-and-trace system is “on the verge of collapse”.

With the government saying delays to tests could take two weeks to address, headteachers and care homes have warned of potential knock-on effects in trying to contain new outbreaks.