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Number 10 set to reduce the size of legal gatherings

Robert Peston

The government is to significantly reduce the threshold for lawful gatherings of people in homes from the current 30, perhaps to as low as six, I understand. This is a first response to the significant spike to circa 3,000 a day in Covid-19 infections we’ve seen. At the moment, attending a gathering of more than 30 people is punishable with a £100 fine and organising such an event risks a £10,000 fine. Under the reduced threshold, due to be announced perhaps today, the police would be empowered to break up and levy fines on much smaller groups.

The new threshold has not yet been decided, however. One source says that this is a response to the ‘early warning system’ from the Joint Biosecurity Centre, which is charged with advising the government on whether the rate of injection is rising in a dangerous way.

A scientist who advises the government told me he was very concerned that the rise in infections among younger people will rapidly spread to older, more vulnerable individuals, and we’ll see a disturbing rise in hospitalisations.

Downing Street and the Treasury are also under pressure to roll out the new compensation scheme for those forced to quarantine – which is undergoing a local trial – because of concerns some are refusing to isolate because they cannot afford to do so.

There may also be nationally imposed measures to compel greater social distancing in Bolton, today or very soon.