Government Bans Gatherings Of More Than 6 People -As Bolton Announces New Lockdown Measures

The government has announced a ban on social gatherings of more than six people in England an effort to curb growing coronavirus cases.

The ban, announced yesterday (Tuesday September 8) will start on Monday, September 14 and apply to both indoor and outdoor gatherings, but there will be a few exceptions including for households where there are already more than six people living. It will also not apply to schools, workplaces, funerals, some weddings, and organized team sports. It will be enforced through a £100 fine if people fail to comply, doubling on each offence up to a maximum of £3,200.

At present, the guidance says two households of any size are allowed to meet indoors or outdoors, or up to six people from different households outdoors. Until now the police have had no powers to stop gatherings unless they exceeded 30.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will give further details of the changes at a Downing Street news conference at 16:00 BST on Wednesday, alongside senior advisers Prof Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance.

This new announcement follows an earlier announcement of the lockdown in Bolton, which has seen businesses across the borough forced to close their doors after new coronavirus rules were put into place for Bolton.

All hospitality venues will be limited to takeaway and must be closed to customers between 22:00 BST and 05:00 each day..

Commenting on the Government’s decision to close pubs in Bolton as part of local lockdown measures, CAMRA’s National Chairman Nik Antona said:

“Many pubs have struggled to re-open this summer, having invested their dwindling reserves to do so safely and securely in line with COVID-safe guidance. A second shutdown in Bolton is a devastating blow for these pubs and local people’s livelihoods.

“Given the significant impact a second shutdown would have on the industry, the Government must introduce a new financial support package and extend the furlough scheme for pubs that are forced to close in local lockdowns. This is the only way to avoid permanent closures and further job losses.

“Pub companies must also immediately cancel rent for tied pub tenants in Bolton. Tenants shouldn’t be forced to pay rent if they have no turnover.

“CAMRA continues to encourage people to use pubs in safe and responsible way. While people in Bolton are unable to enjoy a pub pint with friends and family at the moment, they can still show support for their local pub by using takeaway or delivery services.”

Chris Fletcher, Policy and Communications Director at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “To anyone watching with concern the news and recent rises in cases over the last few days, today’s announcement by the Health Secretary about further restrictions and measures in Bolton will come as little surprise, so I encourage companies to use our research and resources and contact us to understand more.”

“Even though venues can remain open and just offer a takeaway service, the potential hit to the hospitality sector, just getting back on its feet after enduring a longer lockdown than other sectors could be extremely damaging. The other question is how quickly businesses affected can convert to off site sales.

“There is a worrying trend across Greater Manchester with rising cases and the big concern is that to ensure public health is protected this won’t be the only example of further restrictions with the possibility of even more drastic local lockdown measures should the numbers not start improving.”

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:

“This announcement came as a surprise, but it is clear that the Government are concerned about the recent rise in COVID cases. We need to fully assess the detail of the new restrictions when the Prime Minister speaks later today. As one of the few sectors participating in track and trace the pub sector has been fully playing it’s part in ensuring people follow guidance to contain the spread of the virus up to this point and we will continue to do so.

“The impact of these new announcements can have a cooling effect on public confidence. This restriction comes at a delicate point in our pub recovery after a steady start this summer. We were already worried about levels of trade moving into Autumn and Winter. Pubs will need more support from Government with continued business rates relief, VAT cuts and flexible furlough, as well as a significant cut in beer duty to help them survive, protect jobs and continue to serve communities. We need the Government to send the clear message that pubs remain open for business and the public should continue to support them.”