Kent Police is urging residents to be aware of the changes to rules about gatherings being reduced to no more than six people as from Monday (September 14).
Following the latest government announcement gatherings of more than six people, whether it be in private or public outdoors spaces such as pubs and restaurants, will be illegal as from that date.
Those failing to comply with the new guidance risk receiving a £100 fine which will double on each further repeat breach up to £3,200.
Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix of Kent Police said: “Kent has had a very good compliance rate when it comes to adhering to the national health advice around the coronavirus.
“However, the Government has made it clear that the risk of increasing infections is too great to ignore and stricter social gathering rules will come into effect to help keep everyone safe.
“Kent Police officers will continue to engage, explain and encourage people to follow the latest advice and enforcement will be used as a last resort.”
As of yesterday (September 10), Kent Police had issued a total of 127 fixed penalty notices for social distancing breaches.
With warm weather forecast for this weekend, Kent Police will have an increased presence in key locations around the county to ensure the current national advice is adhered, such as preventing unlicensed music events and illegal gatherings.
Officers will also be working with partner agencies such as councils to make sure safety advice is respected in public spaces such as parks and beaches.
ACC Nix added: “Some people may look at this weekend as the last chance to get some wider socialising before stricter rules come into force.
“However, I would add that Kent Police will continue to enforce the current legislation around gatherings like it has done in recent months.
“Covid-19 remains a real and deadly threat and we all need to take responsibility for our actions in helping reduce the spread of the virus and ultimately save lives.”
The reduction from 30 people gatherings to six has been prompted by a rise in cases over the last week of almost 3,000 new positive tests last Sunday. At the height of the pandemic there were around 6,000 new cases each day. In July this dropped to below 1,000. However there has also been a hike in testing with mobile testing sites and home kits. The rise in positive tests is not mirrored by a rise in people needing hospital admission or a rise in covid-attributed deaths.
The guidance in England currently says two households can meet indoors. Outdoors up to six people from different households can meet – or up to 30 people from two households.
But the new rules mean the maximum number of people gathering will be six although exemptions apply for work, education, weddings, funerals, and organised team sports as well as households or bubbles that have more than six people.
COVID Secure venues like places of worship, gyms, restaurants and hospitality venues can still hold more than 6 people in total. Within those venues however, there must not be individual groups larger than 6, and groups must not mix socially or form larger groups.
A “Hands, face, space,” campaign has also launched.
The government says the rise in Covid-19 rates is especially prevalent among people aged 17- 29.
The message comes on the heels of government urging people to Eat Out to Help Out last month, schools reopening fully this month and amid directives that people should start returning to the workplace.
From Monday, any gathering of more than six people in England will be illegal, unless it meets one of the exemptions
The rule is for groups both indoors and outdoors
People will at first be fined £100, but this will double on each further repeat offence up to £3,200
The list of exemptions will be announced before the law changes on Monday.
Premises and venues 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 & Trace without delay when required.
Local authorities will be supported to make further and faster use of their powers to close venues that are breaking the rules and pose a risk to public health.
Fines will be levied against hospitality venues that fail to ensure their premises remain COVID Secure.
The enforcement capacity of local authorities will be boosted by introducing COVID Secure Marshalls to help ensure social distancing in town and city centres, and by setting up a register of Environmental Health Officers that local authorities can draw upon for support.
The Passenger Locator Form needed for travelling to the UK will be simplified, and take measures to ensure these are completed and checked before departure.
Border Force will step up enforcement efforts at the border to ensure arrivals are complying with the quarantine rules.
The government will also restrict the opening hours of premises, initially in some local areas.