England tightens virus rules as cases mount

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday announced a tightening of rules on social gatherings amid concern at rising infection rates, particularly among young people.

The law in England will change from next week to reduce the number of people who can gather socially from 30 to six, with some exemptions.

Johnson’s government also unveiled a new public information campaign entitled “Hands. Face. Space”, to emphasise the importance of hand washing, face coverings and social distancing.

“We need to act now to stop the virus spreading,” the prime minister said, ahead of a press conference on Wednesday where he will explain the changes.

More than 41,500 people confirmed to have coronavirus have died in Britain, the worst toll in Europe.

The death rate has now fallen to its lowest level since mid-March, but as in other parts of Europe, cases are increasing, with almost 3,000 daily infections reported in recent days.

Johnson’s office said medical and scientific advisers had agreed that “urgent action is needed”, while police had also asked for the rules to be simplified.

The government currently says people must not socialise outside in a group of more than six people from different households, but the law actually puts that limit at 30 in private spaces.

From Monday, this will be reduced to six, except for large families, weddings, funerals, organised team sports, workplaces and educational settings.

“We are simplifying and strengthening the rules on social contact — making them easier to understand and for the police to enforce,” Johnson said in remarks released by his office.

“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.” (AFP)