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1 October restart date to be reviewed

The event restart date of 1 October is to be reviewed, prime minister Boris Johnson has announced, 9 September.

Addressing the nation from Downing Street, prime minister Johnson outlined plans to restore life to as “normal as possible”, which include testing on a mass scale and would see those testing negative allowed more flexibility.

“We must revise plans to pilot larger audiences in venues later this month and review our intention to return audiences to stadiums and conference [and exhibition] centres from 1 October,” said the prime minister. “That does not mean we are going to scrap the programme entirely, we just have to review it and the culture secretary [Oliver Dowden] will say more about that shortly.”

No indication of when the culture secretary’s update would be was made.

He continued: “Over the summer we have been working on an alternative plan which could see us return to closer to normality, and this plan is based on mass testing. We will test 500,000 a day, and those testing negative will be allowed to behave in a more normal way in the knowledge they cannot infect anyone else.”

The prime minister went on to outline more details about the plan of mass-testing of large audiences, which he revealed would take place in October in both indoor and outdoor settings.

“It may be possible to deploy these tests on a far bigger scale, unlike anything carried out anywhere else. That level of testing would allow people to lead more normal lives without the need for social distancing.

“Theatres and sports venues could test an audience and let in anyone with a negative result. The same would apply to workplaces.

“We are going to pilot this approach in Salford from next month with audiences in indoor and outdoor venues and then we hope to go nationwide.”

Rule of Six

Earlier in his address, the prime minister introduced the ‘Rule of Six’, in which people may no longer gather socially in groups of more than six in each other’s’ homes or in pubs.

Weddings, funerals, planned sporting events and workplaces are not affected by any of the changes announced and may continue with current guidance. It is likely that business events for up to 30 may continue to take place, in accordance with guidance, but no confirmation either way has been forthcoming so far.

It was confirmed that venues may hold more than six people overall, so long as individual groups within said venue did not exceed six. For example, a room can hold multiple groups of six so long as they follow the Government’s approved guidance.

Venues failing to comply will be fined, and it will now be a legal requirement to collect data for track and trace purposes.

“It is safer to meet outdoors and you should keep your distance from anyone you don't live with, even if they are close friends or family,” the prime minister said.

“In England from Monday we are introducing the ‘Rule of Six’. You must not meet socially in groups of more than six. Anyone breaking the rules risks being dispersed, fined and possibly affected.”

He clarified that this replaces the existing guidance on allowing two households to meet indoors and the cap at 30 people, in a social capacity. He notes limited exemptions related to support bubbles larger than six, and that hospitality settings and places of worship can take in more than six people overall.

Picture by Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street