Two families of four chatting in the street would break England’s Covid laws, Patel says

Two families of four chatting in the street would break England’s Covid laws, Patel says

  • Home secretary says she would report neighbours to police if she saw them flout ‘rule of six’

Two families of four stopping for a chat in the street would contravene England’s “rule of six” coronavirus restrictions and constitute mingling, the home secretary has said.

“You have got to put this in the context of coronavirus and keeping distance, wearing masks,” Priti Patel told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “The rule of six is about making sure that people are being conscientious and not putting other people’s health at risk.”

She said she would report neighbours or any other group that she saw flouting the new restrictions banning social gatherings of more than six people, which came into place in England on Monday. People face fines of up to £3,200 if they break the new rule, which follows an increase in coronavirus cases.

Patel told Sky News: “I’m rarely at home but if I saw something that I thought was inappropriate then, quite frankly, I would call the police. It’s not dobbing in neighbours, it’s all about us taking personal responsibility.”

On Monday, the policing minister, Kit Malthouse, encouraged people to report their neighbours for not complying with the rule of six.

When questioned about Covid testing after widespread complaints about a lack of availability – even in places such as Bolton, which currently has the highest infection rate in England – Patel said it was wrong to suggest there were none available.