Social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England from Monday – with some exemptions – amid a steep rise in coronavirus cases.
A law change will ban larger groups meeting anywhere socially indoors or outdoors, the government said.
But it will not apply to schools, workplaces, or COVID-secure weddings, funerals, and organized team sports.
It will be enforced through a £100 ($130) fine if people fail to comply, doubling on each offense up to a maximum of £3,200 ($4144).
Several exemptions apply to the new rules – which come into force on 14 September – with households and support bubbles bigger than six people unaffected.
Previously, guidance in England allowed gatherings of up to six people from different households outdoors – or two households of any size, indoors, or outdoors. But until now the police have had no powers to stop them unless they exceeded 30.
“One of the pieces of feedback we had including from the police was that we needed the rules to be super simple so that everybody knows what they are,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
The rationale behind allowing this, but not allowing larger groups of people inside other people’s homes, is that businesses can only be open if they follow safety and hygiene measures set out by the government, he added.