Can I gather with other people? / Coronavirus

Coronavirus: Can I gather with other people?

This information was correct as of 24 June 2020, but is subject to possible changes.

Unless otherwise stated, this page sets out the law and guidance which is applicable in England only.

Can I gather with other people?

Yes, but only in certain circumstances.

On 13 June 2020, the law changed to introduce the concept of “linked households” also known as “support bubbles”, which can be formed in certain circumstances.

You can now gather outdoors:

  • with any number of people who are members of your household or members of your support bubble (if applicable)
  • in groups of up to six people where any person in the group is not part of your household or your support bubble (if applicable).

But you are not allowed to gather indoors with anyone except members of your household or members of your support bubble.

However, there are some exceptions to these rules – meaning that you are allowed to gather in the following circumstances.

Exceptions to the rules on gatherings

You are allowed to gather in the following circumstances:

  • if all the members of the group are from the same household
  • if all the members of the group are from linked households/support bubbles
  • to attend a funeral of a member of your household, a close family member, or a friend (but only if nobody from their household or close family could attend the funeral)
  • if you are an elite athlete, the coach of an elite athlete, or the parent of an elite athlete (if the athlete is under the age of 18), and the gathering is necessary for training or competition
  • to go to a drive-in cinema in a car or other vehicle with members of your household or with members of your linked household/support bubble
  • the gathering is reasonably necessary
    • for work purposes, or for voluntary or charitable services
    • to help with moving home
    • to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
    • to provide emergency assistance
    • to provide early years childcare if you are registered on the Early Years Register
    • to enable one or more persons in the gathering to avoid injury or illness
    • to enable one or more persons in the gathering to escape a risk of harm
    • to continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where children do not live in the same household as their parents or one of their parents
  • to fulfil a legal obligation or to participate in legal proceedings
  • where the gathering takes place at an educational facility and the gathering is reasonably necessary for the purposes of education
  • you are going to see someone who is giving birth at their request
  • you are visiting a member of your household, a close family member or a friend who you reasonably believe is dying
  • you are visiting a member of your household, a close family member or a friend who is receiving treatment in hospital or staying in a hospice or care home
  • you are accompanying a member of your household, a close family member or a friend to a medical appointment.

Gathering in any other circumstances will still be a criminal offence.

What counts as a gathering?

A “gathering” is defined in the regulations as two or more people being present in the same place in order to engage in any form of social interaction with each other, or to undertake any activity with each other. This is a very broad definition which is likely to cover any reason for meeting with another person unless this is genuinely accidental.

What is a “support bubble”?

A “support bubble” also known as a “linked household”, is where two households, which meet certain conditions, are allowed to link up. This means that you can meet and socialise with the household you link with, including gathering indoors.

Can I form a support bubble?

You can only form a support bubble with another household if one of the households is a single adult household, or a single adult with one or more children under the age of 18.

Single adult households, or single adult and child households, can form a support bubble with one other household made up of any number of people.

For example, a single mother and her child who live together can form a support bubble together with a household where there are two parents and five children living.

All adults in both households must agree to forming the bubble and neither household can be linked to another household.

Can I change my support bubble?

No. Once you decide which household you wish to link with, neither of the households can change.

If your households are linked but for some reason you decide to stop linking, you can’t form a support bubble with a new household.

Can I meet my partner, friends or family indoors?

No, you are not allowed to gather indoors with anyone who is not from your household or support bubble, unless it is for one of the exceptions. This effectively means that you are not allowed to spend time indoors with a person who is not from your household for any reason other than the listed exceptions.

The regulations define “indoors” as areas that are enclosed or substantially enclosed, meaning that they have a ceiling or roof and are either wholly enclosed (except for doors, windows and passageways) or have limited openings. This includes temporary structures, including structures covered by a canvas awning, meaning that it likely includes a marquee in the garden. The full definition is set out in the Smoke Free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006.

 

Can I attend a BBQ or social event in somebody else’s garden?

Yes, as long as there are no more than six people from different households which are not linked present. It is a criminal offence to gather with more people than this unless it is for one of the exceptions listed above.

Government guidance states that it is okay for the group to spend time in a private garden or uncovered yard or terrace. But the guidance advises that you should not use garages, sheds or cabins.

The government guidance notes that, according to scientific advice, the risk of transmitting coronavirus is much lower outside than indoors. The guidance therefore advises you to avoid going into somebody’s house. This means using a side-gate or back-entrance to enter the garden where possible, and only using the toilet when necessary.

If you go into somebody else’s household which is not a linked household, you should note that you are not allowed to gather with anybody else indoors, and it will be a criminal offence if you do so, unless it is for one of the exceptions listed above.

The guidance also advises against sharing food and drink with people from outside your household. This means not passing food or drink to one another, or using plates or utensils touched by someone from another household. This might mean bringing your own food and utensils to a BBQ, or washing utensils yourself before use.

Can I meet my partner, friends or family in public places?

Yes, as long as there are no more than six people from different households which are not linked present, or it is for one of the exceptions listed above. This includes spending time outdoors or exercising.

The Government has published detailed guidance on meeting people from outside your household.
If you need further advice, you should contact a criminal law solicitor.

Get help to find a solicitor.

You can also contact us for further advice on our Get Advice page.

Read our next page on what the police can do.

What are my rights on this?

Find out more about your rights and how the Human Rights Act protects them

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