🚨They are here. 15 minuets before they come into force. A new record - and not a good one.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020

legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/986/…
So, what do they say? Yes, I am here at 23:48 on a Sunday night doing this. Thanks @pritipatel, who for some reason has replaced Matt Hancock as the minister responsible for these new regs.

Usually the time they are made is there too but clearly they are so embarrassed... /2
OK, have had a first read through. Took a bit as these are *complicated*. As you know, people are prohibited from now in England from meeting in groups of more than 6 unless an exception applies. And there are loads, and loads, of exceptions, and plenty of room for confusion /3
I'll do a brief run through - not detailed - as I need to go to bed. As I suggested a few days ago, it looks like for the first time the guidance and law are coming together, joining hands, one set of regulations to bind us all. So the list in the guidance below is about right /4
But there is a lot of new stuff in the regulations.

The starting point is no more than 6 people may gather - unless the gathering falls within a list of exceptions. /5
But here's the complicated bit - which is going to be nigh on impossible to enforce - you can participate in gatherings organised by charities, businesses, public bodies [hey, what happened to political bodies? Gone from the last regulations]... but you have to join as... /6
... a 'qualifying group' which basically means you go along as a 6 or less, or a household, but then you are not allowed to (@davidallengreen @SeethingMead you're going to love this) *mingle* with anyone else. It's illegal to mingle! What does mingle mean? /7
Is saying hello to someone at a gathering "mingling"? What about holding the door open for them? I know it's late but this is all I can think of now 👇 - children of the 80s, join me! /8
There are some brand new terms, perhaps never before seen in law, in the exceptions:
- "Support group" /9
- "significant event gathering"
[this has replaced 'life cycle event" as perhaps that wasn't a term enough people understand, but this is all rather wide isn't it?
Would it apply to a finishing school party?
Kind of reminds me of this
/10
And then there is "sports gathering"
Doesn't this exclude privately organised sporting activities, i.e. organised by individuals, such as 5-a-side football games? /11
"Relevant outdoor activity"

God this is all so convoluted /12
Weddings and wedding receptions are allowed - no more than 30 people though as promised in the guidance /13
Good to see, as promised in the guidance, for the first time in six months protests are permitted as long as they complete a risk assessment and follow guidance

Weirdly, 'political body' has stayed in this bit but come out of the overall exception. I guess the govt... /14
... think that all political bodies do is organise protests, or that the only valid in-person activity over 6 people they organise is protests? /15
According to Westlaw, this is the first appearance of the word "mingle" in English legal history. Probably. /16
As before, you can 'link households'. For those who have forgotten, in short one of the two households must only have one adult (and however many children). The other household can have any number of adults. The linking means you can meet with more than 6 from 2 households /17
I really must go to bed now. I'm sorry the government did this so ridiculously late and have launched the most complex and convoluted set of lockdown regulations on England yet. I don't see how these are enforceable in any real sense - so many complex exceptions /18
Good night, I hope above doesn't seem frivolous - it isn't meant to, it's just exasperating and you have to laugh sometimes. Please do follow guidance which (thankfully, for the first time in 6 months) reflects the law. Let's look out for each other /19 gov.uk/government/pub…
Just to add - you can’t rely on the PDF the govt published last night alone. It amends (adds to) July regulations. So you have to insert/delete as you are going to see full list of exceptions to regulation 5
Original: legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/684/…
Amendments legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/986/… /20
Very helpful combo document made by @dracos. Haven’t checked for accuracy but looks good dracos.co.uk/made/rule-of-s…
The official guidance has now been updated to match the new regulations - note that there are already some 'explanations' of the regulations in the guidance, though a court would have to make up its own mind.

gov.uk/government/pub…
Some of the guidance seems to directly contradict the regulations themselves. E.g. 'significant event gathering'

Guidance: "This only covers the ceremonies, and does not include celebrations of these events"

Regulations: "such as events to celebrate"
Informally organised sport over 6 people seems to have been banned - this was my reading of the regulations too. RIP my five-a-side game

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More from @AdamWagner1

15 Sep
On @BBCr4today @pritipatel was asked if a family of 4 stoping and chatting with another family of 4 on the way to the park was "mingling" which was banned.

She suggested it was - people listening will think 'mingling' on the way to the park is banned.

This is *wrong* [thread]
The ban on mingling has a specific context and definitely does *not* apply to two families meeting on the way to the park.

It is about events organised by charities/businesses/public authorities where 'qualifying groups' (households up to 6) must not mingle with each other /2
People walking to the park must not form a 'gathering' of more than 6. But that has a different definition

A gathering is where people are "present together... in order to engage in any form of social interaction..."

I doubt people accidentally bumping into each other... /3
Read 15 tweets
13 Sep
Eight hours before the new 'rule of six' comes into force, affecting everyone in England. Still no publication of the new criminal law yet. Anyone?
This is late even by the standards we have come to expect
Here are the places you might expect to find it, if you are playing 'hunt the new criminal law which is going to impact on tens of millions of people's lives in 8 hours time' along with me

legislation.gov.uk/secondary?titl…

statutoryinstruments.parliament.uk
Read 17 tweets
12 Sep
The article is hopelessly confused - talk about 'opting out' of Human Rights Act. I assume it means opting out of parts of European Convention on Human Rights. Lots to say about this but difficult to make sense without seeing actual proposals rather than garbled Telegraph balloon
We have been here a number of times before, including the deliberate confusion between the Human Rights Act (which is a domestic - local - UK law) and the European Convention on Human Rights. The target is undoubtedly the ECHR, but no mandate to pull out in part/full...
Read 10 tweets
6 Sep
We need to talk about the impact of the newest coronavirus regulations on the right to free speech, peaceful assembly and protest.

This relates to major changes which quietly came into force just over a week ago. I did a thread about them here (THREAD)
The issue is pretty simple.

Until just over a week ago, if someone organised a protest which was otherwise lawful (e.g. didn't trespass on private property, use violence, incite hatred), worst that could happen under Coronavirus laws was a £100 fine for people participating* /2
* fine could rise to £3,200 if an individual breached the lockdown rules six times.

The reason you may get a fine (strictly a 'fixed penalty notice') is it remains illegal to gather in groups of more than 30 people UNLESS certain conditions are met. /3

legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/684/…
Read 11 tweets
30 Aug
Wondering how @Piers_Corbyn has been fined £10,000?
- From yesterday police have power to fine £10k for people holding or "involved in the holding" of gathering > 30 people
- Can apply to protests but charities/businesses/political bodies can lawfully organise if follow guidance
I think it's time to raise an uncomfortable little flag - you may fiercely disagree with Piers Corbyn's views (I do!) a person was just fined £10k for organising a peaceful (as far as I know) protest under a law which came into force 24 hours earlier...
... passed with no parliamentary scrutiny, literally by a flick of @MattHancock's pen, using a power which allows the executive to pass new criminal laws without prior approval by any other elected officials - and this by my count about the 50th such time it happened since March
Read 6 tweets
28 Aug
I want to be serious about this for a moment, as I think there's something interesting here. When I started blogging and then tweeting about human rights and the politics of human rights just over a decade ago there were almost no lawyers on social media... /1
At the time, there were some brilliant lawyers doing social media - e.g. @davidallengreen @carlgardner @Familoo @TheSmallPlaces @Charonqc - but it wasn't a 'scene' which journalists and politicians paid much attention to. /2
I think that #Catgate (2011) changed that as all of a sudden journalists started paying attention to lawyers who seemed to know what they were talking about and could explain these complex issues which werre becoming more politically charged /3 ukhumanrightsblog.com/2011/10/06/wha…
Read 6 tweets

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