Social gatherings above six to be banned in England from Monday

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Social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England from Monday, with some exemptions, following a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases across the country in recent weeks. The ban relates to social gatherings both indoors or outdoors.

The law change will not apply to offices, manufacturing or other workplaces. Schools and sporting events will also not be affected by the changes.

People caught breaking the rules will face a £100 fine – which will double on each offence up to a maximum of £3,200.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We need to act now to stop the virus spreading. So we are simplifying and strengthening the rules on social contact, making them easier to understand and for the police to enforce.

“It is absolutely critical that people now abide by these rules and remember the basics – washing your hands, covering your face, keeping space from others, and getting a test if you have symptoms.”

Industry reaction

The government announcement to ban social gatherings of more than six people from 14 September is a further hammer blow to the event sector and all associated businesses, say tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg.

A spokesperson at the firm said: “To avoid the previous measures being in vain and increased job losses the Government should extend the support measures and introduce a sector-specific furlough scheme

“It should also remove impending cashflow issues for next year by further deferring tax liabilities for effected sectors and delaying further than 12 months the repayments of the existing support measures.

“Other measures could also be introduced such as a holiday on Employers National Insurance for affected businesses to reduce employment costs.”

The new ban will not apply to schools, workplaces, Covid-19 secure weddings and funerals and organised team sports but the decision will cause a wave of cancellations of events in September and something needs to be done urgently

“It’s not about handouts for businesses. Many business owners are talented entrepreneurs with a team of willing employees and equipment. With a little bit of ingenuity from Government, these local SME businesses could provide services to assist the wider economy even if partially subsidised by UK Government.

“There are many Government contracts that still continue and local communities that need to be supported. These small businesses would rather be active and productive to help pay their way than simply rely upon further direct support.

“Why can’t coaches normally used by tourists not be redeployed to provide local bus routes. Catering businesses be used to provide meals for those vulnerable people who feel safer staying at home. All it needs is someone to take charge and coordinate.

“ Just when these businesses thought they would be able to generate revenues in September before the winter arrives the rug has been pulled from beneath them and many businesses will already have incurred costs and made plans for events that are now cancelled and the expenditure wasted.

“They are struggling to understand the Government decision especially as many other businesses including bars and restaurants remain open where greater numbers of people attend both inside and outside than planned local or private events.

“These businesses have already suffered severely with little or no income for six months. Sector-specific support is clearly needed and soon. The current Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Bounce Back Loan Scheme along with the Job Retention Scheme all cease in the next two months and it is now clear that it will not be business as usual for many businesses anytime soon.”

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