The new ‘rule of six’ law comes into force today in a bid to tackle the growing number of Covid-19 cases across the country.

From Monday, in England, any social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal and enforceable by law, and people caught flouting the rules could face fines of up to £3,200.

Here's a breakdown of the 'rule of six':

  • The 'rule of six' applies to both indoor and outdoor settings and follows a rapid increase in the number of daily positive cases
  • It comes amid concerns about an increase in cases in care homes and growing criticism of the NHS Test and Trace system.
  • Aside from limited exemptions, including work and education, police will be able to disperse gatherings of more than six people and issue fines of £100 up to a maximum of £3,200.
  • The rule applies across England and replaces the existing ban on participating in gatherings of more than 30 and the current guidance on allowing two households to meet indoors.

Regulations enabling the enforcement of the rule were published late on Sunday night as more than 3,000 Covid-19 cases were recorded in the UK for the third day in a row - the first time since May that cases were above 3,000 on three consecutive days.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the recent rise in cases “makes it clear that more needs to be done to stop the spread of this disease”.

Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Martin Hewitt has urged the public to “stick to the limits".

He said: “Preventing the spread of coronavirus is a shared effort and police are playing our part alongside government, businesses, hospitality owners, local authorities and others.

“Officers are in their communities following our approach to engage, explain and encourage people to follow the rules.

"We will issue fines when people refuse to comply.

“The demands on the police service are now at similar levels to before the pandemic, which makes it crucially important that we all take personal responsibility, stick to the limits and prevent the spread of this deadly virus.”

People in Blackburn with Darwen are being urged to comply with the government’s new restrictions to help avoid stricter measures being introduced for the whole borough.

Denise Park, Chief Executive of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: "The threat of further restrictions for the whole borough is very real.

"We all need to take action right now to help prevent that.

"We know people are fed up with the current situation.

"Some people are not complying with the rules, some people are becoming complacent, and that has started to have an impact on the increase in cases both locally and nationally.

"With virus infections increasing across the borough, socialising with people from other households vastly increases the risk of spreading the virus – and taking it home to our families.

"It is when we socialise that we relax and let our guards down, and are less likely to follow guidance fully.

"The way this virus works is that we don’t see the impact of how we behave today until three weeks later.

"The stark reality of this is that we are at risk of reverting to where we were at the start of this pandemic.

"We urge all Blackburn with Darwen residents to be sensible, reduce their social contact as much as possible, and play a part in keeping everyone in the borough safe."

Currently eight wards in the borough are subject to tighter restrictions due to the higher numbers of infections there.

This prevents residents from these areas meeting up with anyone from outside their household, whether indoors or outdoors.

Now, with increases in many other parts of the borough, it’s vital that everyone complies with the government guidance around social distancing and limiting contact with others – or we could find ourselves in a similar situation to neighbouring Bolton.

Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: "We appreciate how tough things have been since March, almost six months now, and the sacrifices we have all had to make.

"But the threat of coronavirus has not gone away, and we cannot afford to drop our guard.

"We know we have more tough months ahead of us.

"Hospital admissions relating to Covid-19 are expected to rise, as we brace ourselves for the colder weather.

"If we do not comply with the government guidance on good hygiene, wearing face coverings and maintaining social distance, we fear we will see big changes for our borough.

"We have seen greater restrictions introduced in Bolton this week; I don’t want to see them introduced here."

Officials will be hoping the warm and sunny weather forecast for Monday does not encourage people to gather in groups in outdoor spaces.

Temperatures as high as 29C are expected in some parts, according to the Met Office.

The Government said that as of 9am on Sunday, there had been a further 3,330 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

Tough new Covid-19 lockdown measures were announced for parts of the UK on Friday as cases continued to rise and as the R number – the reproduction number of coronavirus transmission – climbed above one.

According to Government advisers, the last time R was above one was in early March.