Please note, this article was published before Boris Johnson announced further restrictions in England on Tuesday, September 22.
The Rule of Six came into law across the UK yesterday (Sept 14), as the government looks to halt the recent rise in COVID infections. Here’s all the latest on how this new policy will affect the events industry.
Can business events continue?
Yes. The Meetings Industry Association tweeted the good news here. Despite the government saying that social gatherings must be limited to six people, business meetings and events for up to 30 can still continue.
Events like these can only go ahead if all the previous Covid-secure guidelines are in place. They will also have to be postponed if the venue is in an area where a local lockdown has been enforced.
An absolute total of 30 people will be allowed at the event, meaning that venue staff numbers will need to be factored in to the head-count as well.
You can read more about the announcement, which was confirmed by the Department by Culture, Media and Sport, here.
Will I be able to meet people in restaurants and pubs?
Yes, but only in groups of six or less. COVID-secure restaurants and pubs will be able to host more than six people at a time, although two different groups won’t be able to mingle together. If you see someone you know at a restaurant, for example, you won’t be allowed to go over and say hi. An awkward wave and shrug of the shoulders will have to suffice, at least for now.
It will also be essential for groups visiting pubs and restaurants to leave their contact details, so it’s easy for the Test and Trace programme to get in touch if needs be. Pubs, bars and restaurants will have to close by 10pm, and face masks are now compulsory for bar-staff and non-seated customers.
Can I still attend a wedding or a funeral?
Yes. Wedding ceremonies and receptions held in a public place are still permitted for up to 15 people.
A maximum of 30 are allowed to pay their respects at a funeral, but please note that this doesn’t include wakes.
What’s happening with exercise classes?
Another exemption to the Rule of Six involves organised sport and exercise classes. You’ll still be able to go to a yoga class or pilates, for example, so long as the venue it’s being hosted at is set-up in a COVID-secure way.
What is the punishment if someone breaks these rules?
The police have been given powers to enforce these new restrictions, with fines starting at £100 and doubling each time (up to £3,200) for any further breaches.
How can I still attend an event in a safe way?
Fans of three-part slogans will be delighted because there’s a new one here: Hands, Face, Space.
If you’re still planning to attend a meeting or business event this winter, remember to wash your hands regularly. Coronavirus can live for more than 24 hours indoors, so using hand sanitiser or washing them for at least 20 seconds is recommended.
Don’t forget to bring your mask, and maintain a two-metre distance between yourself and other delegates as much as possible. As this government press release explains, “remaining mindful of surroundings and continuing to make space has a powerful impact when it comes to containing the spread.”
How long will the new measures stay in place?
It’s impossible to say right now, with Professor Chris Whitty explaining that it was “important not to pin ourselves to a date.” The government have said that the new rules will be kept under constant review.
Does this change the planned return of conferences from 1st October?
Yes. Larger business events and conferences were pencilled in to restart in October. But Prime Minister Johnson announced that, due to the rise in cases, this would need to be pushed back. “We must acknowledge that the spread of the virus is affecting our ability to reopen business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events,” he said on September 22. “We will not be able to do this from October 1.”