To reduce the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus, try to keep at least 2 metres away from people you do not live with. Social distancing is essential to stop the spread of the virus, as it is more likely to spread when people are close together. An infected person can pass on the virus even if they do not have any symptoms, through talking, breathing, coughing or sneezing.
When with people you do not live with, you should also avoid: physical contact; being close and face-to-face; and shouting or singing close to them. You should also avoid crowded areas with lots of people; and touching things that other people have touched.
Where you cannot stay 2 metres apart you should stay more than 1 metre apart, as well as taking extra steps to stay safe. For example:
You do not need to socially distance from anyone in your household, meaning the people you live with. You also do not need to socially distance from someone you’re in an established relationship with, or anyone in your legally-permitted support bubble if you are in one.
It may not always be possible or practicable to maintain social distancing when providing care to a young child, or person with a disability or health condition. You should still limit close contact as much as possible when providing these types of care, and take other precautions such as washing hands and opening windows for ventilation.
When seeing friends and family you do not live with you should meet in groups of 6 or less.
In England, this limit of 6 includes children of any age.
You should also:
Limits on the number of people you can see socially have changed. When meeting friends and family you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) you must not meet in a group of more than 6, indoors or outdoors. This is against the law and the police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notices) of £200, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £6,400.
Government has announced an initial £60 million to support additional enforcement activity undertaken by local authorities and the police, in addition to funding that has already been awarded.
There are exceptions where groups can be larger than 6 people. These include:
Where a group includes someone covered by such an exception (for example, someone who is working), they are not counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means, for example, a tradesperson can go into a household of six without breaching the limit, if they are there for work.
More information can be found on our Frequently Asked Questions page.
As well as the exemptions above, venues following COVID-19 Secure guidelines will be able to continue to host more people in total – such as religious services in places of worship – but no one should mix in a group of greater than 6. This includes places like a pub, shop, leisure venue, restaurant or place of worship. 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 – no more than 6 people unless you all live together (or are in the same support bubble)
avoid social interaction with anyone outside the group you are with, even if you see other people you know
ensure that at least one person in your group provides their contact details to the organiser so that you can be contacted if needed by the NHS Test and Trace programme. Checking in using the official NHS QR code is a quick and easy alternative.