Britain will reimpose a limit of six people for most social gatherings from Monday with the aim of curbing a resurgence in coronavirus infections by the end of the year, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
Hancock told the BBC on Wednesday that the ban on gatherings of more than six people would be needed for the “foreseeable future.”
“I really hope we can turn this round before Christmas,” he said. “Three months is a long time in a pandemic, and I very much hope this strong rule, together with the local action we’ve taken … can work to do that.”
The new rule reduces the the maximum participation in social gatherings from 30 to six in all indoor and outdoor settings, with the exception of weddings, funerals and team sports.
People failing to comply with the new measures could face a 100-pound (130-dollar) fine, doubling on each repeat offence and increasing up to 3,200 pounds.
Britain reported 2,460 new Covid-19 infections on Tuesday, bringing its total since March to more than 352,500.
Britain’s official death toll linked to the coronavirus pandemic is more than 41,500, Europe’s highest total.
Health data analysts estimate the true death toll at up to 70,000, based on seasonal excess deaths, with many hundreds of thousands of others infected.
Health experts and opposition politicians have accused the government of a slow response to the crisis and criticized Britain’s low level of testing and poor preparation for a pandemic.