BRITS face new £100 fines if they meet in groups of more than six indoors or out under tough rules to halt a second Covid wave.
Boris Johnson will announce the clampdown today in his first No 10 press conference since July as cases continue to soar across the UK.
⚠️ Follow our live blog on Boris Johnson’s speech today for the very latest news & updates
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
The rules apply from Monday to gatherings in homes, pubs and restaurants — and could still be in force at Christmas.
Currently, people only face fines for gathering in groups of more than 30. And they can only legally meet inside with one other household.
But that will be changed so any of the six can be from different households, in an attempt to bring rules in line with outdoor gatherings.
It comes after police demanded greater powers to fine young Covid flouters — and ahead of tens of thousands returning to university next week.
The PM said the changes would make it simpler for the public to understand.
Those who break the rule of six — inside or outside — can be fined £100, doubling for each repeat offence up to £3,200.
Weddings, funerals and organised Covid-secure team sports will be exempt but must remain limited to 30 people.
The drastic move comes after alarming figures revealed there were almost 2,500 new cases in the UK yesterday — following two straight days of 3,000 new infections.
The numbers were the highest since May and took the overall total of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK to 350,000-plus.
The number of Covid-related deaths in the UK also hit 32 yesterday — the highest for weeks.
The PM will announce the changes at Downing Street today with chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
He is expected to say: “We need to act now to stop the virus spreading. So we are simplifying and strengthening the rules on social contact — making them easier to understand and for the police to enforce.
“It is absolutely critical people now abide by these rules and remember the basics — washing hands, covering your face, keeping space from others, and getting a test if you have symptoms.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday warned MPs that the UK was on the brink of a second Covid peak.
He said Britain has seen a “concerning rise” in coronavirus infections which could lead to more deaths in just a matter of weeks.
He went on: “Each and every citizen has a responsibility to follow social distancing and help stop a second peak.”
Cabinet Secretary Robert Jenrick also warned a failure to halt positive cases could trigger a second national lockdown.
Mr Jenrick said: “As we approach the autumn and winter there is going to be even more responsibility on all of us to keep following the guidelines.
“Nobody wants to see a return to full national restrictions of the kind we had earlier this year.”
Police chiefs met the PM last week requesting the rules on social contact to be strengthened and simplified.
They wanted to make it easier to identify and disperse gatherings following a spike in raves and house parties among youngsters.
Ministers fear that the rise in UK cases is following a similar pattern to other European countries such as Spain and France.
There, an increase in social contact among youngsters gradually spread the virus to the older generation, now leading to an increase in Covid deaths.
Scientists also warned that the restrictions might need to still be in place at the end of the year — threatening families’ hopes of spending Christmas together.
John Edmunds, a member of the Government’s SAGE advisory board, warned action must be taken now.
He said: “The epidemic continues to increase and then we have Christmas.
“And that is very difficult. What is Christmas? Well it’s meeting with your family very close. Restaurants and pubs and stuff like that.
“It’s all high risk. And it’s all indoors.”
He said the R rate was above one and the UK was in a “risky period”.
David Nabarro, World Health Organisation’s special envoy for Covid, said a second wave was coming for the UK.
It comes after other stats showed Covid deaths fell by more than a quarter in a week last month to their lowest level since mid-March.
The virus was mentioned on 101 death certificates in England and Wales in the week to August 28.
That is down from 138 across the previous seven days and was the lowest for 24 weeks.
Prof Whitty said: “We have, through the extraordinary efforts of the whole population, got Covid rates right down.
“They are now rising again, especially in those aged 17 to 29. If we stop social distancing, Covid comes back.”
Earlier this week, Mr Hancock blasted youngsters for flouting rules and warned them not to “kill your gran” by spreading Covid.
on on or EMAIL [email protected]