BRITS were ordered not to mingle today in a bid to prevent Covid infections under “rule of six” laws which left experts baffled.
Trick-or-treating, five-a-side football and rubbing shoulders in the pub were banned — but up to 30 can go hunting or grouse shooting.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
Gatherings at “significant milestones” such as weddings, funerals and bar mitzvahs are still allowed — but not birthdays.
Parents will not be permitted to take children to the park for a playdate with another family if the group would be more than six — but the same gathering would be allowed if the children were taken by a registered childminder.
Sleeping children are also thought to be exempt under the rushed laws which were only published 20 minutes before they kicked in today.
Halloween celebrations will be outlawed as family groups of six and under would be “mingling” while knocking doors to trick or treat.
Sunday League football games can go ahead but “informal” kick-abouts are banned.
Many flouted the new rulings today as the temperature rose and large groups flocked to parks across the UK to soak up the sun. Hundreds headed for beaches, paying no heed to the threat of a £100 fine.
Students gathered as they prepared to return to universities after months of remote learning. A large number met up in Bristol’s Castle Park.
Meanwhile, hordes of Kurdish protesters joined a demo against IS in Newcastle leaving the police helpless to enforce the rules.
According to the new legislation, police can issue fines in the “belief” a person is mingling but they will not have to prove it.
Under-18s will not have to pay penalties. Their parents will have to fork out for them.
Repeat offenders face fines up to £3,200. People issued with a fine will not be able to appeal. They can refuse to pay and go to court where, if they lose, they may be hit with a bigger fine and the start of a criminal record.
Legal experts believe the new legislation will be impossible to police and say it is the first time the word “mingle” has appeared in law.
LAST week, the PM announced the “rule of six”. He said the Government was “simplifying” the rules.
Rather than being simplified, the rules include the longest and most complicated set of exceptions yet.
It’s worrying that six months into the lockdown, criminal laws affecting all of our lives are still written in secret and rushed out minutes before they come into force.
The reality is that the laws are now so complicated that the police will find them almost impossible to enforce, and members of the public have little hope of understanding what they can or can’t do.
My advice to the public is to carefully read the law and Government guidance — and make sure you don’t mingle.
- By Adam Wagner, Human rights lawyer
Top lawyer Adam Wagner said: “What does mingle mean? Is saying hello to someone at a gathering ‘mingling’? What about holding the door open for them?”
Former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch was among those to hit out at the new raft of rules. She said: “Many will find this a topsy-turvy prioritisation from government.
“I have had queries about choirs and community bands all of whom would be worthy of an exemption and instead we are scrabbling around prioritising shooting animals. It’s just bonkers.”
Shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard said: “People are struggling to get Covid-19 tests near their homes but the Conservatives are distracted with trying to exempt the blood sport passions of their big donors from coronavirus regulations.
“There’s one rule for the Cabinet and their mates and another for the rest of us.”
No 10 said it would be up to police to “use their discretion” when enforcing new laws.
A spokesman said: “It’s clear a gathering in a group of more than six is not permitted.
“We’ve exempted over 30 types of sport, exercise and physical activity such as football, rugby and other outdoor pursuits. Outdoor activity is safer from a transmission perspective, and it’s often easier to social distance. Where such activities take place, safety measures must be taken including conducting a risk assessment and compliance with Covid-19 Secure guidance.
Meanwhile, it emerged that only 8,930 of the 19,171 fines issued for alleged breaches of Covid-19 laws in England and Wales have been paid.
AT SIXES & SEVENS
Brits flout ‘rule of 6’ on day one – as police chief says: Don’t call us!
Prosecutions could be doled out in the case of 8,954 not paid in time.
Another 1,287 are still within the 28-day payment period.
Criminal proceedings can be initiated against those who have accepted tickets but not paid within 28 days, or immediately where the fine is not accepted.
GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL email@example.com