Groups and gatherings

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The regulations, offences and fixed-penalty notices applicable to groups of people, including Section 63 gatherings.

First published
Updated
Written by College of Policing

Step 2 

As of 12 April 2021 all areas in England are subject to Step 2 restrictions.

Indoor gatherings

No person may participate in an indoor gathering in a Step 2 area (exemptions apply).

Exemptions to indoor gatherings include:

  • where a person is visiting a dying person (conditions apply)
  • where a person is visiting a person receiving treatment (conditions apply)
  • for indoor sports (conditions apply)

General exceptions also apply (see full briefing).

Outdoor gatherings

No person may participate in an outdoor gathering in a Step 2 area which consists of more than six people (the rule of six) or more than two households.

There are specific exceptions that only apply for outdoor gatherings:

  • where people are members of no more than two households (linked households are regarded as a single household)
  • for outdoor sports that do not permit spectators (this includes the parents of a child participating)
  • for outdoor activities (conditions apply)

General exceptions also apply (see full briefing).

General exceptions 

There are exceptions that apply to both indoor and outdoor gatherings.

Exceptions include, but are not limited to:

  • where necessary for education or training (conditions apply)
  • where necessary to enable a student to move from their student household to their vacation household and to return to their student household after the vacation
  • for the purposes of protest (conditions apply) 
  • for certain arrangements linked to childcare (conditions apply)
  • where it is reasonably necessary:
    • for work, voluntary or charitable services
    • to provide emergency assistance
    • to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm
    • to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person or a person who has a disability
    • for the purposes of a house move

A full list of exceptions is available in Schedule 2, Part 1, S(4).

Gatherings restricted by numbers of people

Some exceptions have limits to the number of people permitted at a gathering.

No more than 15 people at:

  • marriages, civil partnerships and alternative weddings
  • commemorative events following a person’s death
  • support groups
  • parent and child groups

No more than 30 people at:

  • funerals

Enforcement options and FPNs

A constable or PCSO may take such action as is necessary to enforce these restrictions. They can:

  • direct the gathering to disperse
  • direct any person in the gathering to return to the place where they are living
  • remove any person from the gathering and use reasonable force if necessary in the exercise of the power (police constable only)

A constable or PCSO can give any reasonable instruction to ensure compliance.

No specific power of entry is attached to this offence.

Children

Where the person in contravention of the regulations is under the age of 18 and they are accompanied by an individual who has responsibility for them:

  • a constable or PCSO may direct that individual to take the child to the place where they are living
  • the responsible individual must, so far as reasonably practicable, ensure that the child complies with any direction or instruction given

A constable or PCSO can issue a fixed-penalty notice to an adult who fails to secure compliance of a child for whom they are responsible.

Fixed-penalty notices cannot be issued to persons under 18 years of age.

FPNs

A constable or PCSO may issue a fixed-penalty notice to any person that the authorised person reasonably believes:

  • has committed an offence under these regulations
  • is 18 or over

The amount is £100 if paid within 14 days, otherwise £200.

If the gathering consists of more than 15 people and takes place in:

  • a private dwelling
  • educational accommodation, or is an indoor rave

The amount is £400 if paid within 14 days, otherwise £800.

FPN amounts double for each subsequent offence up to £6,400.

Large gathering offence

Came into force on 29 January 2021

An offence is committed if a gathering consists of more than 15 people and:

  • takes place in a private dwelling
  • or, educational accommodation (provided for students while boarding at school, halls of residence provided for students attending higher or further education courses or courses at 16-19 Academies)
  • or, is an indoor section 63(1) type gathering

The same exceptions apply as they do for all other restrictions on gatherings.

The introduction of this offence does not include a power of entry to a private dwelling.

FPN amounts

Anyone attending such a gathering may be issued a fixed-penalty notice. The FPN amount is £800 with a reduction to £400 if paid within 14 days. You cannot issue an FPN to anyone below 18 years of age.

For any other breach of the existing indoor gathering restrictions, including gatherings that consist of fewer than 15 people, an FPN of £200 can still be issued.

Section 63 gatherings

Organisation and facilitation of an event

Restrictions

No person may hold, or be involved in, a Section 63-type gathering. A Section 63-type gathering:

  • consists of more than 30 persons
  • takes place indoors
  • would be an event of the kind mentioned in Section 63(1) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 if it took place in open air, such as a rave or other unlicensed music event

Offences

Anyone contravening the requirements listed above commits an offence, punishable on summary conviction by an FPN.

FPN amounts

For organisation or facilitation of a restricted gathering (either a Section 63-type or other relevant gathering), the FPN amount is £10,000 payable within 28 days.

Court proceedings may be brought in case of non-payment. Unlike FPNs for some other offences, such FPNs are not taken into account for the purposes of doubling.

Other required precautions

Certain gatherings require additional precautions to have been taken for it to be permitted.

For the purposes of these regulations the gathering organiser or the person managing the gathering must meet both of the following requirements to have:

  • carried out a risk assessment that would satisfy the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work regulations
  • taken all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of COVID-19, taking into account:
    • the completed risk assessment
    • and any guidance issued by the Government which is relevant to the gathering

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