The Prime Minister has introduced a new ‘rule of six’ to limit the spread of the coronavirus on the same day the total number of cases in North Devon and Torridge passed 200.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Witty (left) and Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a virtual press conference at Downing Street, London, following the announcement that the legal limit on social gatherings is set to be reduced from 30 people to six. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA WireChief Medical Officer Professor Chris Witty (left) and Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a virtual press conference at Downing Street, London, following the announcement that the legal limit on social gatherings is set to be reduced from 30 people to six. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Boris Johnson outlined the new restrictions in a Downing Street briefing on Wednesday afternoon (September 9).

From Monday, the legal limit on social gatherings will be reduced from 30 people to six. It will apply to gatherings indoors and outdoors - including private homes, as well as parks, pubs and restaurants.

Gatherings of more than six people will be allowed where the household or support bubble is larger than six, or where the gathering is for work or education purposes.

Exemptions will also apply for weddings, funerals and Covid-secure venues and organised team sports, with a full list to be published by the Government before Monday.

Speaking during the Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister said: “In England from Monday we are introducing the rule of six.

“You must not meet socially in groups of more than six. And, if you do, you will be breaking the law.”

Regarding the six people rule, the Prime Minister said: “This will apply in any setting, indoors or outdoors, at home or in the pub.

“The ban will be set out in law and it will be 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. Now you only need to remember the rule of six.”

He added: “I know that over time the rules have become quite complicated and confusing.

“We are responding, and we are simplifying and strengthening the rules, making them easier for everyone to understand.”

Mr Johnson he was ‘sorry’ that two households will not be able to meet up together if they exceed six people, but added that he was ‘doing what is necessary to stop the spread of the virus and save lives’.

Mr Johnson said that he has tasked the Cabinet with increasing enforcement of the rules, adding: “In future, premises where people meet socially will be legally required to request the contact details of a member of every party, record and retain these details for 21 days and provide them to NHS Test and Trace, without delay, when required.”

The number of cumulative cases in North Devon and Torridge increased to 202 on Wednesday as three more cases were confirmed.

One case with a specimen date of September 1 took the total number of cases in North Devon to 140, and two new cases in Torridge on September 3 took the total number of cases in the district to 62.

The two districts have seen 13 new cases since September 1.