The news broke after the Government provided clarification over what would be exempt from its six-person limit. Among the exemptions are allowances for elite sporting events and training – meaning Premier League matches can go ahead – and weddings.
There is also an exemption for protests. The Government said protests and other political activities would be able to go ahead provided they are “organised in compliance with COVID-19 secure guidance and subject to strict risk assessment”.
There will also have to be a point of contact for police to communicate with.
The exemption has stoked fury from critics, who took to social media to oppose the rule on protests.
One said: “Arrests and fines will mainly be reserved for reasonable and normally law-abiding citizens.”
Another said: “I think, provided protesters are simultaneously playing team sports in groups of no more than 30, they would be breaking the law only in a limited and quite specific manner. I believe the government is now totally cool with that.”
Another commented: “If we do not follow the new guidelines then we are in for another lockdown.”
The new rules are due to come into force on September 14 – the same day the Extinction Rebellion protests are due to end.
However, there is nothing from stopping more from going ahead.
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For people who are not exempt from the rules, the police will, from that date, be able to impose fines of £100, increasing to a maximum of £3,200.
Apart from protests, other exemptions include when one is at work; in education; jury service; funerals, and more.
Boris Johnson has expressed regret that the new rules will prohibit large families from gathering together, saying it “breaks my heart”.
However, he added the previous rules had become “quite complicated and confusing”.
The Prime Minister did not say whether or not bigger parties would be allowed over the Christmas period.
He said: “I’m sorry about that and I wish we did not have to take this step. But as your Prime Minister I must do what is necessary to stop the spread of the virus and to save lives.”
The UK has recorded a total of 358,138 cases of coronavirus, with 2,919 additional cases recorded yesterday.
This is up from 816 daily cases a month prior, on August 10, according to government data.