On Wednesday, the Prime Minister announced new measures in our national effort to beat COVID-19. I am writing to summarise these new measures that come into force on Monday and explain why they have been put in place.
Despite the enormous sacrifices of the British people over the last few months, the latest figures have shown an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases across the country. The Government must act now to stop the virus from spreading further, and from moving from people of working age to those who are older, and more vulnerable to this virus. The other reasons new measures are needing to be introduced is to ensure that we can keep schools and businesses open and because currently too few people are exercising COVID-19 precautions when mixing at home, or the homes of friends. That is a large extent of where the increase in transmissions is taking place.
Data recently released by Public Health England shows that Melton has one of the smallest numbers of cases in the country, with just 10 cases reported last week. Rutland continues to have low numbers, with just five in the last week.
Whilst this news is reassuring, it is vital we continue to stay alert to the threat of COVID-19 and keep our communities safe. I have no doubt that residents will continue to adhere to the restrictions and keep each other safe as new measures are introduced from Monday. Please find full details below.
I also wanted to provide an update on testing following much discussion on this over the last week. The latest data shows the UK is currently doing more testing than other comparable countries – testing 2.54 people for every 1,000 people each day in comparison to Germany who tests 1.88, Spain 1.91 and France 1.89.
As of yesterday, our testing capacity is 369,937 – a record high and we’re expanding this further, increasing capacity by over 10,000 tests every day over the last fortnight. We will also be rolling out new technology to further boost testing capacity ahead of winter.
There has been no reduction in national testing capacity, but demand for testing is increasing, including from people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms. Naturally, with any system there are bound to be mistakes and times of intense demand where those who are asymptomatic and find it easier to travel will be asked to travel further than those who cannot as they are suffering badly with the symptoms, or because places are being held in reserve for NHS workers or sent to areas with the highest infection rates. However, the average distance travelled to a test site is just 6.4 miles, and 90% of people who book a test travelled 22.5 miles or less. The Government will continue to work hard to make testing available as quickly as possible to all.
I very much hope you find the below summary useful, and please do be in touch if you have any questions about the new regulations.
Stay well –
THE RULE OF SIX
- From Monday, it will be illegal to meet in groups of more than six people.
- Children are included in the group of six.
- This applies in any setting – indoors or outdoors, at home, or in the pub.
I urge residents to continue practising social distancing with anyone they do not live with. The ban will be set out in law and enforced by the Police. Anyone breaking the rules risks being dispersed, fined and possibly arrested.
** This single measure replaces both the existing ban on gatherings of more than 30 and the current guidance on allowing two households to meet indoors.**
LIMITED EXEMPTIONS TO THE RULE OF SIX
- Education and work places remain unaffected.
- If a single household or support bubble is larger than six, they can still gather.
- The new legal gatherings limit of six does not apply to funerals – relevant premises will limit capacity based on how many people it can safely accommodate with social distancing in place. The Government has advised that funerals are limited to a maximum of 30 people.
- Wedding ceremonies, civil partnerships and receptions (sit down meals in COVID-19 secure venues) are allowed to take place with more than six people but no more than 30.
- More than six people are permitted to attend the ceremonies for certain significant life events, such as christenings, baptisms, and bar mitzvahs. However, celebratory receptions of up to 30 people are only permitted for weddings and civil partnerships.
CLARIFICATIONS ON PUBS, RESTAURANTS, PLACES OF WORSHIP AND OTHER SOCIAL SETTINGS
- Venues following COVID-19 Secure guidelines can host more than six people in total, but no one should visit in a group greater than six. This is because pubs and food venues are demonstrating overall exceptional adherence to the guidelines.
- When you visit one of these places, you should:
- follow the limits on the number of other people you should meet with as a group (it will be illegal to be in a group of more than six from outside of your household)
- avoid social interaction with anyone outside the group you are with, even if you see other people you know
- provide your contact details to the organiser so that you can be contacted if needed by the NHS Test and Trace programme
- Premises where people meet socially will be legally required to request the contact details of a member of every party for NHS Test and Trace and retain them for 21 days. Fines will be levied against hospitality venues failing to ensure their premises are COVID Secure.
ENFORCING THE RULES MORE STRONGLY
- The new rules will become law on Monday 14th September enabling the police to enforce these legal limits.
- Breaching the rules could lead to a fine of £100 (doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3200), dispersal order or even arrest.
- Later this month, businesses will be required to ensure there are no unlawful gatherings on their premises.
- COVID Secure Marshals will be introduced to help ensure social distancing in towns and city centres.
- The Government will support Local Authorities to make faster use of their powers to close venues that are breaking the rules and pose a threat to public health.