The ‘Rule of Six’ means that anyone gathering in a group of more than six people in any inside or outside place will be dispersed and could be subject to a £100 fine if they refuse to comply.
Dorset Police will be adopting a 4Es approach to the new legislation using engagement, education and encouragement to ask members of the public to comply with the regulations. Enforcement remains a final option.
Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya said, “The change to COVID-19 legislation, and subsequent change in the law, means everyone has a legal responsibility to play their part and not gather in a group of more than six people.
“Those doing so will be proactively challenged and engaged with by police, but my hope is the vast majority of communities and visitors to Dorset will comply and we will not see large numbers of fixed penalty notices being issued.”
There are some exceptions to these rules, including if everyone in the group is a member of the same household or two linked households.
The new regulations do not refer to schools or other childcare, education or training, the workplace, for voluntary charitable purposes or providing support to a vulnerable person.
The regulations do apply to the majority of public spaces, whether indoors or outdoors.
Gatherings of more than six, but no more than 30, may be permitted at weddings or civil partnerships, funerals and other religious or belief-based life cycle ceremonies.
Police will have the ability to issue an on the spot £100 fixed penalty notice, which can rise to a maximum of £3,200 for repeat offending.
ACC de Reya added, “Demands on Dorset Police are back to pre-COVID levels and indeed have been extraordinary at times this summer.
“My hope is that in the majority of circumstances where police do challenge a group, people will disperse and no fine will be issued, but the powers are there should officers need them.
“I know we are seeing large numbers of younger people returning to university in Bournemouth in particular and campus life is likely to be very different with these measures.”
If members of the public are concerned that the law is being broken or they are experiencing anti-social behaviour, they can report this to Dorset Police. Reports should be made through online reporting wherever possible via https://www.dorset.police.uk/do-it-online/.
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