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Coronavirus – meeting with people

This advice applies to England

The government has introduced ‘alert levels’ for different parts of England – these are also called ‘tiers’. The alert levels are:

  • medium alert or ‘tier 1’ – this is the usual level
  • high alert or ‘tier 2’
  • very high alert or ‘tier 3’

The rules you have to follow depend on the alert level in your area. You can check the alert level in your area on GOV.UK.

If your area is at medium alert

It’s against the law to meet in a group of more than 6 people unless you're all from the same household – this includes children. In some situations you can meet in larger groups.

The government guidance says you should meet people outdoors if possible.

You can read the government’s latest guidance on what you can and can’t do in a medium alert area on GOV.UK.

Going to public places like pubs, shops and restaurants

You can still go to places like pubs, shops, restaurants and places of worship. You can’t:

  • go in a group of more than 6 people, unless you’re all from the same household
  • mix with people outside your group
  • join another group

If your area is at high alert

It’s usually against the law to meet:

  • indoors with anyone who isn’t from your household
  • outdoors in a group of more than 6 people – unless you’re all from the same household

The limit of 6 people includes children.

You must follow the rules even if you leave your area.

In some situations you can meet in larger groups. You can read the government’s latest guidance on what you can and can’t do in a high alert area on GOV.UK.

Going to Wales

If your area is at high alert, it’s usually against the law to go to Wales.

You can still travel to Wales for some reasons, for example:

  • to get basic things like food, medicine and pet supplies – you can also buy other things at the same time
  • for work or volunteering
  • for education or childcare
  • to go to a wedding, civil partnership or funeral
  • to avoid someone being harmed or help someone in an emergency
  • to do something the law says you have to – for example jury duty
  • to move house – including making arrangements to move house
  • if you’re passing through Wales on the way to somewhere else

If your area is at very high alert

It’s usually against the law to meet:

  • indoors with anyone who isn’t from your household
  • in a private garden with anyone who isn’t from your household
  • in a public outdoor space in a group of more than 6 people – unless you’re all from the same household

The limit of 6 people includes children.

You must follow the rules even if you leave your area.

In some situations you can meet in larger groups. You can read the government’s latest guidance on what you can and can’t do in a very high alert area on GOV.UK.

Going to Wales

If your area is at very high alert, it’s usually against the law to go to Wales.

You can still travel to Wales for some reasons, for example:

  • to get basic things like food, medicine and pet supplies – you can also buy other things at the same time
  • for work or volunteering
  • for education or childcare
  • to go to a wedding, civil partnership or funeral
  • to avoid someone being harmed or help someone in an emergency
  • to do something the law says you have to – for example jury duty
  • to move house – including making arrangements to move house
  • if you’re passing through Wales on the way to somewhere else

The police could tell you to go home or fine you £200 if you meet with people when you're not allowed to. They can fine you up to £6,400 if you keep meeting, and up to £10,000 if you organise a meeting of more than 30 people. If you have children under 18, you’re responsible for making sure they follow the rules.

The government guidance also says you should keep at least 2 metres away from people who aren't members of your household, or at least 1 metre if that's not possible.

Check if there's an exception to the rules

You can always meet up with the people in your household – it doesn’t matter how many of you there are.

You might be able to join with 1 other household and treat them like part of your household – this is called being in a ‘support bubble’.

In some cases, you can meet with people from other households in a group of up to 30 people – for example if the meeting is:

  • for work, volunteering or training
  • for education or childcare
  • for a funeral – you can meet in a group of up to 30 people
  • for organised sport or an exercise class – it must be outdoors unless it’s for people with disabilities
  • to avoid someone being harmed or help someone in an emergency
  • organised by a business, charity or political or public body
  • to do something the law says you have to – for example jury duty

Going to weddings and civil partnerships

You can meet in a group of up to 15 people for a wedding or civil partnership ceremony.

You can also go to a reception if you’re in an area at medium or high alert. You can’t go to a reception if you’re in an area at very high alert.

Making a support bubble

You might be able to join with 1 other household and treat them like part of your household – this is called being in a ‘support bubble’.

You can only be in 1 support bubble and you can’t change the household you’re in a bubble with.

You can only make a support bubble if either:

  • you live with no other adults
  • there’s only 1 adult in the other household

If you live with children under 18, they’re also part of your support bubble.

If you’re separated from your children’s other parent and your children see both of you, they can be part of 2 different support bubbles.

If your area is at high alert or very high alert

You might be able to join with 1 other household to get help with childcare. This is called a ‘childcare bubble’. You can’t join a childcare bubble if you’re already in a support bubble.

You can only join a childcare bubble if:

  • your area is at high alert or very high alert
  • there’s a child aged 13 or under in 1 of the households

It doesn’t matter how many adults are in the households.

The rules for childcare bubble are the same as for support bubbles.

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