Great Britain

Rule of six to STAY as Boris Johnson slams brakes on end of lockdown – and gatherings still capped at 30 outdoors

BRITS will still only be able to meet up in groups of six indoors after Boris Johnson slammed the brakes on the end of lockdown tonight.

The PM announced social distancing measures capping the number of people who can get together are set to stay in force in England until July 19.

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That means the rule of six will stay. It limits inside events to six people from up to six households, or two households of any size.

The legal limit of 30 attendees at outdoor gatherings will also remain in force under the new delay.

Children of any age are included in headcount but professional carers aren't while support bubbles only count as one household.

The police can crack down on those who flout the rules, including issuing fines of up to £6,400 for repeat offenders.

Officers typically slap first time rule breakers with a £200 fixed penalty notice, which rises to £800 for those attending house parties.

Organisers of illegal events, featuring over 30 people indoors or 50 outdoors, ben be fined £10,000.

But in a slight easing of the rules there will no longer be a fixed cap on the number of guests who can attend weddings.

Instead venues will have to work out how many people they can accommodate while maintaining social distancing.

The change brings marriage ceremonies into line with funerals, for which there is already no upper limit.

But other traditional parts of couples' bid day, like live music and dancing, are still banned, and face masks remain compulsory.

It comes after the PM announced a four-week delay to Freedom Day to due to the rapid spread of the Indian variant.

At a No 10 press conference Boris Johnson said the extra time will be used to get 10 million more Brits double jabbed.

That would bring the total number of the population with the maximum protection up to a whopping 75%.

It is needed because new infections have spiralled from 12,000 to 42,000 a week due to the highly transmissible Indian variant.

Top Government scientist Sir Mark Walport warned this morning that "sadly we are in the grip of the early stages of a third wave of the virus".

He said: "More than 90 per cent of the new infections in the UK are of this variant, and it is rising in most parts of the country, though not all.

"The good news is we would be in real trouble if not for the enormous success of the vaccination programme.

"We are starting to see hospital numbers rise, though fortunately with nothing like the intensity we saw previously."

There will be a two-week "break clause" in the delay, with the PM reviewing the latest pandemic data on July 5.

If he finds evidence that the new surge in cases isn't translating into more hospitalisations he could then speed up the roadmap again.

But some No 10 insiders fear the situation is bleak and admit they could even be forced to delay the end of lockdown by more than four weeks.

Health minister Ed Argar said it is "of course possible" that the end of lockdown restrictions could be delayed even further.

And there are fears 'Freedom Day' could even be delayed well into August after Dominic Raab refused to rule it out as an option.

The Foreign Secretary warned he couldn't provide an "absolute guarantee" restrictions will definitely be lifted on July 19.

Asked about that possibility, Mr Argar said today: "Were there to be a delay of course that’s possible.

"But I and the PM and the Health Secretary want to see restrictions removed as soon as it’s safe to do so, and any delay as short as possible.

"We’ve got to recognise vaccination is the key. This disease will become endemic and we’ve got to learn to live with it.

"We will not get to a zero Covid. Vaccination is the way to get to the point where we can live with this disease."

Health Minister Edward Agar says the delay to lockdown ending could be longer than four weeks

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