What do the new Covid rules mean for gyms, pubs, restaurants and universities?

Boris Johnson has said it “breaks my heart” to stop grandparents seeing their grandchildren but insisted on Wednesday he had no choice in the face of rising cases of coronavirus. From Monday September 14 no more than six people will be able to meet socially in any surroundings, meaning it will be illegal for a family of six to meet any of their relatives. Anyone breaking the rules will be liable to a £100 fine rising to £3,200 for repeat offenders. Mr Johnson stood at the podium for his first Downing Street press conference since July to explain the new “Rule of Six” and his reasons for it. He was joined by Prof Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser, who warned that the additional lockdown measures are likely to last for months. As well as the new six-person rule, Mr Johnson detailed a new crackdown on pubs that flout Covid security rules, policed by “Covid marshals”, and increased spot-checks on people in quarantine. The scientific advisers quoted figures showing that people under 30 are the prime reason for the recent spike in cases, prompting questions about whether the Government should have opted for a more targeted policy. Asked whether he felt comfortable separating families, Mr Johnson said: “Of course I don’t feel comfortable. It breaks my heart to have to insist on these restrictions on family gatherings. “No-one in Government wants to do these things. The trouble is people who think they can take responsibility for their own health and take their own risks are misunderstanding the situation. “At any age you can be a vector for the disease...once you get high levels of infection I’m afraid the deaths eventually start to take place. “The more decisive the action we can take, the nearer will be the day when we’re able to allow grandparents and others to meet each other in a way that they would want.” The new "Covid-secure marshals" will patrol the streets of towns and cities to ensure people keep their distance to stop the spread of Covid-19, Mr Johnson said. The new marshals will be charged with helping to ensure social distancing in town and city centres. A register of environmental health officers is also to be set up to help local authorities. Mr Johnson said: "Fines will be levied against hospitality venues that fail to ensure that their premises remain Covid-secure. "We will boost the local enforcement capacity of local authorities by introducing Covid-secure marshals to help ensure social distancing in town and city centres, and by setting up a register of environmental health officers that local authorities can draw upon for support." Number 10 sources said that some councils had already hired Covid-19 street marshals who go to busy areas and give advice to people if they are not socially distancing. The marshals - who are expected to be retired or former environmental health officers - will not be given powers to fine rule breakers although they will be able to alert the police to large gatherings of people. The plans were cautiously welcomed by councils which asked for more details "quickly" as well as guarantees that "any new responsibilities for councils in this area will have to be fully funded". Nesil Caliskan, chairman of the Local Government Association's Safer and Stronger Communities Board said: "Given the shortage of environmental health officers, it is positive that the Government has committed to a register of EHOs, and the LGA will continue discussions to take this forward.” Furlough 'in suspended animation' People on the furlough scheme will be kept "in suspended animation when really we want people to get back to work", Mr Johnson said. The Prime Minister is under increasing pressure to continue with the furlough scheme that pays staff to be at home beyond next month. However, ruling out any extension, Mr Johnson insisted that the Government will "continue to do everything we possibly can to support those who can't work in the way that they that they want to". "One of the difficulties with the furlough scheme is if we extend it more widely is that you're just keeping people in suspended animation when really we want people to get back to work if they possibly can in a Covid secure way," he said. Earlier the Government said that companies forced to close because of a Covid-19 outbreak will be given "lifeline grants" worth between £1,000 and £1,500 every three weeks. Stephen Barclay, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, told MPs that the payments were "an important next step in our economic plan to protect jobs and businesses against coronavirus". Mike Cherry, the national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said the "additional cash injections for those faced with local lockdowns are hugely welcome". However, Labour pointed out that the sums were paltry compared to the sums needed by companies to survive an enforced lockdown. Anneliese Dodds MP, the shadow chancellor, said: "We’ll need to wait an

What do the new Covid rules mean for gyms, pubs, restaurants and universities?

Boris Johnson has said it “breaks my heart” to stop grandparents seeing their grandchildren but insisted on Wednesday he had no choice in the face of rising cases of coronavirus.

From Monday September 14 no more than six people will be able to meet socially in any surroundings, meaning it will be illegal for a family of six to meet any of their relatives. Anyone breaking the rules will be liable to a £100 fine rising to £3,200 for repeat offenders.

Mr Johnson stood at the podium for his first Downing Street press conference since July to explain the new “Rule of Six” and his reasons for it.

He was joined by Prof Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser, who warned that the additional lockdown measures are likely to last for months.

As well as the new six-person rule, Mr Johnson detailed a new crackdown on pubs that flout Covid security rules, policed by “Covid marshals”, and increased spot-checks on people in quarantine.

The scientific advisers quoted figures showing that people under 30 are the prime reason for the recent spike in cases, prompting questions about whether the Government should have opted for a more targeted policy.

Asked whether he felt comfortable separating families, Mr Johnson said: “Of course I don’t feel comfortable. It breaks my heart to have to insist on these restrictions on family gatherings.

“No-one in Government wants to do these things. The trouble is people who think they can take responsibility for their own health and take their own risks are misunderstanding the situation.

“At any age you can be a vector for the disease...once you get high levels of infection I’m afraid the deaths eventually start to take place.

“The more decisive the action we can take, the nearer will be the day when we’re able to allow grandparents and others to meet each other in a way that they would want.”

The new "Covid-secure marshals" will patrol the streets of towns and cities to ensure people keep their distance to stop the spread of Covid-19, Mr Johnson said.

The new marshals will be charged with helping to ensure social distancing in town and city centres. A register of environmental health officers is also to be set up to help local authorities.

Mr Johnson said: "Fines will be levied against hospitality venues that fail to ensure that their premises remain Covid-secure. "We will boost the local enforcement capacity of local authorities by introducing Covid-secure marshals to help ensure social distancing in town and city centres, and by setting up a register of environmental health officers that local authorities can draw upon for support."

Number 10 sources said that some councils had already hired Covid-19 street marshals who go to busy areas and give advice to people if they are not socially distancing. The marshals - who are expected to be retired or former environmental health officers - will not be given powers to fine rule breakers although they will be able to alert the police to large gatherings of people.

The plans were cautiously welcomed by councils which asked for more details "quickly" as well as guarantees that "any new responsibilities for councils in this area will have to be fully funded".

Nesil Caliskan, chairman of the Local Government Association's Safer and Stronger Communities Board said: "Given the shortage of environmental health officers, it is positive that the Government has committed to a register of EHOs, and the LGA will continue discussions to take this forward.”

Furlough 'in suspended animation'

People on the furlough scheme will be kept "in suspended animation when really we want people to get back to work", Mr Johnson said.

The Prime Minister is under increasing pressure to continue with the furlough scheme that pays staff to be at home beyond next month.

However, ruling out any extension, Mr Johnson insisted that the Government will "continue to do everything we possibly can to support those who can't work in the way that they that they want to".

"One of the difficulties with the furlough scheme is if we extend it more widely is that you're just keeping people in suspended animation when really we want people to get back to work if they possibly can in a Covid secure way," he said.

Earlier the Government said that companies forced to close because of a Covid-19 outbreak will be given "lifeline grants" worth between £1,000 and £1,500 every three weeks.

Stephen Barclay, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, told MPs that the payments were "an important next step in our economic plan to protect jobs and businesses against coronavirus".

Mike Cherry, the national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said the "additional cash injections for those faced with local lockdowns are hugely welcome".

However, Labour pointed out that the sums were paltry compared to the sums needed by companies to survive an enforced lockdown.

Anneliese Dodds MP, the shadow chancellor, said: "We’ll need to wait and see the detail of this proposal, but the vast majority of businesses are set to get just £1,000 for three weeks. "That won't even cover the cost of employing one worker on the National Living Wage."

What effect the new rules will have

UNIVERSITIES

By Katie Russell

Freshers events have all been cancelled; crowds are out and bubbles are in. New guidance from the Government outlaws any social gathering larger than six people inside or outdoors and it is possible a national curfew may be instituted.

Further guidance is expected from the Department for Education shortly but many universities are already making plans to ensure students' safety. On a wider scale, students will be asked to consider the possibility of them spreading the disease to older age groups.

The latest figures show that the age group 20-29 is seeing the highest increases in numbers of those affected. As a result, the Prime Minister has warned that students who fall ill will be asked not to travel home to prevent the spread of disease.

A series of proposals for easing out of lockdown safely unveiled in June by Universities UK, the vice-chancellor membership organisation, shows that young people’s social spheres will be far smaller than in a typical year.

Students will live and study in bubbles composed of people from the same course in order to reduce transmission of coronavirus on campus. These groups will share a timetable to restrict exposure to other bubbles, and freshers’ week mixers will be virtual.

Even walking around campus may be different, as some universities are considering imposing one-way pedestrian systems. From student halls to tuition, here's what students can expect

PUBS & RESTAURANTS 

By Tomé Morrissy-Swan

As part of what Johnson dubbed "the rule of six", pubs and restaurants will only be able to take bookings of up to six people in line with the new rules. The six can be from multiple households. Hospitality venues can have more than six people inside in total, but customers on individual tables must not exceed that number.

The rules differ from previous guidelines in that police have powers to enforce them, and businesses will be expected to as well. Individuals who fail to comply can be handed a £100 fine, doubling with each offence, to a maximum of £3,200. Operators will also be required to collect details for track and trace; previously, it was merely guidance. Business that fail to ensure their premises adhere to the rules face fines. 

"It raises concerns," says James Lyon-Shaw, who runs The Drumming Snipe and Greene Oak, in Surrey and Berkshire. "But when you actually digest it, how it affects us specifically, it won't have a massive impact. From the start we chose not to take tables over six, and we wouldn't take tables of more than two households." 

Could pubs and restaurants close again? It is possible, though nothing has been announced yet. Local lockdowns and curfews have been enforced throughout the summer, and the most recent, in Bolton, has seen a return to takeaway and delivery only for pubs and restaurants. 

Read more: Will pubs and restaurants close again?

GYMS

By Maria Lally

Gyms remain largely unaffected. However, the Prime Minister reiterated that groups of six people cannot go to the gym together.

Mr Johnson said: "Covid secure venues like gyms can still hold more than six in total.

"Within those venues, however, there must not be individual groups larger than six, and groups must not mix socially or form larger groups."

As cases rise, he also warned he is not afraid to take measures further should it be necessary.

For now, fitness junkies can continue their regime as normal - providing it's at a Covid-secure gym and they adhere to strict social distancing guidelines.  Changing rooms are still to be avoided and gyms are still encouraging people to change at home. 

WEDDINGS 

By Katie Russell 

Rest assured, certain occasions, including weddings, will be exempt from this six-person rule. Weddings were allowed to resume from July 4, with up to 30 people able to attend under social distancing rules. From August 15, receptions of up to 30 people have been permitted. Therefore, guidelines will remain the same.

The 30-person guest list must include the couple, guests, suppliers (such as the photographer), and registrar or celebrant. This is provided they comply with social distancing rules. Guests will have to stand or sit at least one metre apart, as well as take other safety precautions – such as wearing a face mask. According to the Covid-19 guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships, wedding ceremonies in England should be kept "as short as reasonably possible" and limited to just what is legally binding.

We have spoken to wedding industry experts to find out what a socially distanced celebration might look like, and whether you should postpone your wedding for the foreseeable future.

SMALL PARTIES & EVENTS

By Eilidh Hargreaves

While the restrictions won't apply to schools, workplaces or Covid-secure weddings, funerals and organised team sports, it will affect parties and events. While close-proximity venues such as nightclubs will remain closed for now, the possibility of a small party for a maximum of six people in a private dining room, at a restaurant, indoors or outside, is realistic. 

Johnny Roxburgh, party architect to the rich and famous, including the Queen, Prince William and Sting, says the dos and don'ts of party planning will need to be tweaked.

"Dancing and party games will be a part of celebrations but as with everything else, we will need to adapt them to suit the regulations at the time of the event. If you have a small venue with a tiny space for a dance floor then it’s not going to work. If you have plenty of space however you should look to position the bar in one area, a dance floor in a separate room and utilise as many outdoor spaces as possible using tents, heaters and canopies."

Read more: What are the rules for hosting parties and events?

ECONOMY AND BUSINESS

By Tim Wallace

Slamming the brakes on reopening threatens to undermine growing confidence supercharged by schemes such as Eat Out To Help Out.

Life will be particularly difficult for the events industry, with stadiums, theatres and other venues now facing the end of the taxpayer-funded furlough scheme next month with little idea of when they can reopen. It raises the threat of mass sackings for previously furloughed staff who are still unable to work.

The changes will add a new note of uncertainty for the wider economy too.

Kallum Pickering, an economist at Berenberg Bank, said: “Any pause or reversal of progress easing social distancing will restrain the economic recovery. A big part of that is confidence and uncertainty.”

The US has already had more of a "second wave", forcing new restrictions, but this has not stopped the economy from getting back on its feet - a point which may give cause for modest optimism in the UK.

Mr Pickering said: “The data show it seemed to work well to flatten the curve again, which is good news, and the US recovery continued. It perhaps slowed a little, but by and large this pausing of easing lockdown restrictions did not disturb the recovery."

Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG, said the restrictions could have an effect on the wider economy if schools and workplaces take them as a sign that things are getting worse.

She said: "It certainly doesn’t help with the feel good factor, but all depends on how this will be applied to the workplace and to schools. At the moment, there are guidelines in place which, provided they are adhered to, the new restrictions should not have an impact.

"But they are likely to point at a certain direction nevertheless, potentially making some companies and workers rethink their plans to go back to the office.”

SPORT

By Christopher Hope

Trials for the reopening of sports stadiums at the beginning of next month will have to be scaled back and a reopening on Oct 1 will be kept under review, Mr Johnson said.

The Prime Minister said in July that he wanted "to bring back audiences in stadiums" from the beginning of next month. So far seven pilots for football, cricket, rugby, horse racing and snooker fans have been staged, with another 12 due to be held before the end of this month.

The biggest - a football match at Brighton and Hove Albion's stadium - saw 2,500 fans gather and one of the future pilots was planned to see 8,000 fans gathering.

However, in his Number 10 statement on Wednesday Mr Johnson said the plans will have to be rethought, with all future pilots capped at just 1,000 spectators.

He said: "At the present time we must also, I’m afraid, revise plans to pilot larger audiences in venues later this month and review our intention to return audiences to stadiums and conference centres from 1 October.

"That doesn’t mean we’re going to scrap the programme entirely it just means we are going to review and abridge it."

Mr Johnson added he hoped that his plans for daily 20 minutes tests for all would allow sports stadiums and theatres to play host to more spectators safely. "Theatres and sports venues could test all audience members on the day and let in those with a negative result, all those who are not infectious," he said.

On Wednesday the first day of the St Leger Festival was attended by 2,500 racegoers before the decision was made to conduct the rest of the event behind closed doors.

Doncaster council instructed Arena Racing Company, which operates the track, to close the rest of the four-day event to spectators ahead of the Prime Minister’s press conference.

Ron Jones, the council’s Labour mayor said allowing a limited number of spectators to attend the four day festival posed a “major risk”.

The course hosted 2,500 racegoers on Wednesday and planned to welcome around 6,000 on Saturday.

Future fixtures where pilots will be carried out include three women's and mens's football games, four county cricket matches, a rugby union match between Gloucester and Harlequins, horse racing at Warwick and Newmarket, a basketball match and a speedway motorcycling event.

A department source said there was still "no decision" on whether spectators will be allowed back into grounds on October 1 although the plans would be reviewed.

The source added: "The pilots programme has been successful - not aware of any issues of transmission we've had and sports have managed very well to keep fans safe."