Skip to main content

The rules for gathering with other people from 7 June 2021.

First published:
4 June 2021
Last updated:

Introduction

We are more likely to catch coronavirus from, and pass it on to, people we are in close contact with every day. The safest thing to do is to avoid contact with other people you do not live with. However, we recognise that this is difficult. If you do meet with other people it is safest to meet with as few people as possible and to meet the same people regularly, rather than lots of different people. This guidance outlines the rules in place for getting together (‘gathering’) with other people.

The general rules indoors are that:

  • There are no restrictions on gathering with members of your individual household (those you live with indoors).
  • You can meet with your extended household in private homes and holiday accommodation.
  • A maximum of 30 people (not including children under 11) can take part in regulated gatherings indoors, including a wedding reception in a regulated premises indoors
  • Any number of children under 18 (or persons who were aged under 18 on 31 August 2020) can take part in regulated gatherings for the development and wellbeing of children (previously known as organised activities.

The general rules outdoors are that:

  • There are no restrictions on gathering with members of your individual household (those you live with outdoors
  • A maximum of 30 people (not including children under 11) can meet outdoors, including in private gardens or spaces, public outdoors spaces such, parks, beaches or woodlands
  • A maximum of 30 people (not including children under 11 or carers of these households) can meet outdoors in a ‘regulated premises’ like cafes, restaurants, bars and visitor attractions.
  • you can meet with others as part of a regulated outdoor gathering, the number of people will be determined by the organiser following undertaking a risk assessment and taking all reasonable measures.

But we are asking people to consider not just what they can do, what the law allows them to do, but what they should do, what is the right thing to do to minimise the spread of coronavirus. In particular, we ask you to:

  • please try and be restrained in how many different people you see. It is better to see the same small group of people regularly than to see lots of different people occasionally
  • please continue to practice social distancing, including outdoors
  • avoid doing activities that might increase the risk of transmission (for example shouting to be heard over loud music, or singing in close proximity to others)

Regulated Premises

Regulated premises are:

  • The premises of any business or service open to the public, including but not limited to retail premises, museums, theatres, concert halls, gyms, leisure and fitness facilities, community centres, close contact service premises, cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants, registry offices, places of worship and libraries
  • Public transport vehicles, including taxis, trains and buses
  • Any building where work is carried out, including factories and office buildings

If you have been advised to self-isolate

None of the information in this guidance applies to people who have been told to self-isolate by NHS Wales Test Trace Protect. You must not leave your home if you have been told to self-isolate by NHS Wales Test Trace Protect. Failure to self-isolate when told to do so can lead to you being issued a fixed penalty notice or criminal prosecution. For more details please see our guidance on self-isolation.

We also strongly advise you to self-isolate if you are notified through the NHS Covid-19 app that you should do so. However, there is no legal duty to do so because the privacy and anonymity protections on the app mean that it does not collect any personal details.

We also strongly advise you that if you have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, you should follow the general self-isolation guidance and should arrange to have a test (although again this is not covered by the legal duty).

Staying safe when away from home

Coronavirus is spread by large droplets and aerosol transmission from breath. The risk is even greater when sneezing, coughing or talking loudly, from the mouth and nose. This means close contact with others, in particular face-to-face contact within 2 metres, is most likely to cause infection. The virus can live on some indoor surfaces for days and may be spread by people touching those surfaces, then touching their mouth or nose with unwashed hands. The virus is much less likely to be spread outside, although this depends in part on the weather conditions, and disperses more in well ventilated environments. The virus dies quickly in the summer sun but less so in colder conditions.

Before leaving your home you should plan how you will keep safe and minimise risk. Frequent handwashing and the use of hand sanitiser gel remains important, as do social distancing and refraining from touching your nose/mouth with unwashed hands. You should also be mindful of whether you will be indoors or outside.

Even outside there are still risks in places used by many people, or where they may congregate, such as public toilets, where many people may touch taps and flush handles, petrol pumps, pay and display machines, door handles, and cash machines.

Disinfectant gel dispensers may also transmit infection if many hands operate them, so should be operated with the wrist/forearm rather than fingers/palm of hand.

Visiting people who do not live in private homes

In general the law does not prevent visits to people who do not live in private homes. So for example, indoor visits to care homes, hospices and secure accommodation facilities for children are permitted under the law. This does not mean that any of these places are obligated to be open, individual settings will need to ensure they are able to support visits safely. We recommend checking with the relevant location for their specific visiting arrangements.

These visits will need to be in accordance with the rules put in place by the setting you are visiting.

When considering whether there is a need to visit someone outside your extended household, especially indoors, you should remember we all have a responsibility to recognise the risks the virus presents to ourselves, our families and friends and our wider communities.

People will need to make judgements for themselves about what is reasonable, in line with that overarching principle. Keep in mind that the purpose of the continuing restrictions is to prevent the spreading of the virus, including to those we care about.

Visiting private homes

Households and extended households

A household means a group of people living in the same home. A household can be one person living on their own, flatmates, or a family living in the same home. What’s important is that it’s always the same people and the same home.

People can form an extended household with two other households. This means that all the people in the three households join together to become in effect part of a single household. This will allow you to spend time with the people in that household in your home or their home and have physical contact. You can also stay in each other’s homes and in holiday accommodation together.

A fourth household can join an extended household in limited circumstances. The following households can join two other households to form an extended household:

  • a household with an adult living alone
  • a household with a single responsible adult
  • a household where you are 16 or 17 living alone or with others of the same age, with no adult

This was previously referred to as a support bubble. Support bubbles were allowed to help people who lived by themselves, or households with a single responsible adult or a child under one to meet indoors with one other household during alert level four lockdown.

If you were in a support bubble, you can still maintain that arrangement as an extended household. You may also be able to join with two more households as long as you meet the rules on extended household.

Extended households may include a household that is not in Wales.  But please remember that restrictions may apply to travel in either direction and isolation requirements will apply in most circumstances for people arriving in Wales from countries outside of the Common Travel Area.

Benefits of being in an extended household

The people you choose to join with, in effect, become part of your household.

This means you can:

  • spend time with them indoors or outdoors
  • meet up together and stay overnight in groups of larger than six in private homes and holiday accommodation
  • have physical contact with them at much lower risk – if you maintain an exclusive extended household there is no need for social distancing
  • provide or receive care or support for them, if you do not do so already
  • give unpaid carers a break from their caring responsibilities (for example, by looking after their children while they take some time off)

However, we continue to advise you to take special care around people who are at increased risk from the virus and above all, around people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

Rules on extended households

Because a household can vary in size, there is no limit on the number of people who can be in an extended household. But only three households can form part of the extended household and if a fourth household is to join, one of the households must meet the following criteria:

  • a household with an adult living alone
  • a household with a single responsible adult
  • a household where you are 16 or 17 living alone or with others of the same age, with no adult

The key rules for extended households are that:

  • no person can be part of more than one extended household, with the exception of people who live in two homes (for example children whose parents have separated and have joint custody or students with a term time and out of term home)
  • all individuals in one home must belong to the same extended household 
  • all of the adult members of each household must agree to join the same extended household

We recommend people avoid changing extended households unless absolutely necessary, in order to limit the spread of coronavirus between households.

However, we recognise that people’s relationships and circumstances may change over time. If necessary, those eligible can form a new extended household provided that:

  • any household leaving their current extended household refrains from mixing with any other household (including any new extended household) for a period of 10 days before forming a new extended household.

If someone in your previous extended household develops symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus up to 48 hours after members of the extended household last met, if told to do so by a contact tracer members of the extended household must self-isolate. You must not form a new extended household until you have completed your self-isolation.

Local areas and extended households

There are no rules specifying that your extended household has to be with someone in your local area, or within any set distance of your home. There are also no rules preventing extended households being formed with households outside Wales, and we recognise that these may in particular be the right answer for people living close to a border.

Houses of multiple occupations (HMOs)

Houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) are made up of separate households within a shared building. If you live within a shared building you can be in an extended household with two other households from outside of the shared home.

If you share facilities such as bathrooms or kitchens with other people, you do not need to enter into an extended household with those people in order to be in the same room as them.

University students

Students who routinely spend time both away at university and at home are considered to have two households for the purposes of the coronavirus restrictions. However, students are advised to only move between their term-time and out-of-term time households when necessary, for example, for work or because of concerns about their wellbeing.

If you do chose to go home for a visit during term, you may should try and behave as any other visitor, so stay outdoors, keep physical distance and not stay overnight if possible.

The term-time household can agree to form an extended household with another household. Forming an extended household may be more difficult in practice in some forms of student households because all of the students are one household and therefore the whole household must agree to this.

It is important for students to understand what form of household they live in, as this will affect what people they are allowed to see and in what locations. Please see our guidance for students for more information.

If you are a student who shares cooking, dining, bathroom or toilet facilities with other people, you should note that you do not need to enter into an extended household with those people in order to spend time with them.

Children and parental responsibility

Where parental responsibility is shared, existing arrangements can continue and the child can move between both parents, and therefore between both parents’ households and any extended household. The child should be considered to be part of the household or extended household of the parent they are with at any particular time. In other words if either or both parents form an extended household with a household which does not include the other parent, the child could continue to move freely between the parents, and be part of both extended households (i.e. the child does not have to socially distance within the extended household, whichever parent they are with).

For children who do not live in the same household as their parents and have existing arrangements in place to visit and safely have contact, these arrangements can continue. This could include children in foster care, children’s homes and adoptive placements.

Extended households and self-isolation

All of the above rules are legal requirements, and by entering into an extended household which does not comply with these rules, or by acting as if you were in an extended household where you are not, you will be committing a criminal offence.

In addition, although this is not a matter of law, we ask that if one member of an extended household develops symptoms of coronavirus, the entire extended household should self-isolate, not just those living together. This will become a legal obligation if you are contacted by someone working for NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect and told to self-isolate. Guidance is available about self-isolation and how to apply for a coronavirus test.

It is also useful for people to keep a record of who is in their extended household and their contact details, so contact tracers can get in touch with them quickly in the event that they need to.

How to choose who to go into an extended household with

Choosing which household or households to join with to form an extended household is an important decision and for many people we know it may be a difficult one.

There is no right or wrong way to decide on who you should go into an extended household with. However, in other countries where this approach has been followed, studies have shown that people have found it helpful to ask themselves who is in the most need of support, rather than just trying to decide whose company they have most missed.

Everybody is entitled to be part of an extended household, including people who were shielding, but it is important to take extra care in following safety measures when in each other’s company because of their increased risk of developing serious illness if they are exposed to coronavirus.

The risk of catching coronavirus is still real, and it is inevitably increased to some degree by entering into an extended household. In particular, if you enter into an extended household with someone who comes into close contact with others in their work or with children who are attending a school or nursery, this will increase the level of risk to the extended household.

Schools, nurseries and employers are required to take all reasonable measures to reduce the risk of transmission. However, ultimately it is for people to decide on their own extended households.

People working in your home

There are many circumstances in which people might need to access your home or garden to carry out work there. As in all other parts of life, just because something is permitted does not always mean it is the right thing to do. We ask you to think about what is the most sensible thing for you to do to protect your family, friends and your community, rather than thinking primarily about what you are allowed to do. Only through everybody trying their hardest to follow this general approach will we be able to continue to lift restrictions.

Where work does take place in private homes, it is important that this is managed in a safe way and both the worker and household members are well and have no symptoms of coronavirus. Like other businesses that you may use outside of your home, people working in your home must take all reasonable measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and consider the guidance on working in other people’s homes.

We recommend that no work should be carried out in your home if you are isolating, unless it is to repair a fault which poses a direct risk to people’s safety – for example, emergency plumbing, or carry out an adaptation to allow that household to remain in their property. If attendance is unavoidable (because of an urgent or emergency situation), additional precautions should be taken to keep workers and householders completely separate from each other.  In these cases, Public Health Wales can provide advice to tradespeople and households. But no work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.

Caring for others

The other main exception to the general rule is that you can enter people’s homes, or let people into your home, to provide or receive care. This enables help to be provided to someone who needs it, such as an older person, a child or a vulnerable adult. This covers any form of care, provided by any person, to somebody who is vulnerable.

Whether somebody is “vulnerable” follows the ordinary sense of the word and includes older people, children and those who are ill. It is also reasonable to take food and other supplies to a vulnerable person.

Carers – whether they are care workers or unpaid carers – are excluded on any maximum number limits for gathering with others whilst providing support to you - they can continue to provide you with whatever support you need, and go anywhere with you if you need their support.

However, although caring for a vulnerable person is allowed, if somebody is considered to be at increased risk from the effects of coronavirus, or clinically extremely vulnerable you should take this into account before going to see them.

Meeting people away from home

You are allowed to meet other people outside of your home, subject to rules set out in this guidance.

Seeing people outdoors

While the risk of transmission is lower outdoors than indoors, social distancing is still important.

In general, we are asking you to think about what is the most sensible thing to do to protect yourself, your family, friends and your community, rather than thinking about what you are, legally, allowed to do. Only through everybody taking responsibility for their actions will we be able to avoid re-imposing restrictions.

Larger groups of people are now allowed to meet outdoors, including for exercise or simply socially. However, the smaller the number of people who gather, the lower the risk. That means you can vary the people you meet, but we ask you to try and be restrained in how many different people you see. It is better to see the same few people regularly than to see lots of different people occasionally. The more people you come in to contact with, the greater the risk.

In most circumstances, the absolute maximum number of people not already living together who can gather outdoors is a maximum of thirty, including in outdoor regulated settings such as cafes, restaurants, bars and visitor attractions. This does not include any carers or children aged under 11 from any of these households.

In circumstances where young children mix with others, it may not be practical to maintain 2 metre distancing (between children, or even between children and adults). This is in part because it is harder for younger children to understand the concept of physical distancing, and in part because appropriate support from carers will often require closer contact.

Children under 11 are not included in any legal limits on sizes of gatherings, because studies have found that young children are less likely to transmit the virus, whether to other children or to adults. The virus appears to take a milder course in children than in adults for most cases. This will also allow parents with larger numbers of children to meet with other adults more easily.

However, as young children can still transmit the virus, parents of young children should still exercise their good judgement, take care and encourage their children to follow hand hygiene measures and keep close contact to a minimum wherever possible. Even with children, it is safer to meet in smaller numbers, and to meet the same people regularly rather than a range of different people.

In other settings, the number of children who can gather together will be limited by the size of the setting and the need for a sufficient number of adults to be present to supervise.

Larger households

There are no restrictions on people from a single household spending time together outdoors or indoors in regulated premises. This is irrespective of the size and composition of the household as long as everyone present lives together.  

Restaurants, cafes and pubs

All hospitality, including cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars are allowed to open. There are no longer any limits to when alcoholic drinks can be sold and normal licencing laws now apply.

Venues are required to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus. For example:

  • customers will be encouraged to pre-book with details of all members of the group.
  • contact details will be required for contact tracing purposes
  • entry to the premises will be controlled
  • licenced premises, such as pubs, will be providing table service only
  • all food and drink should be consumed at tables
  • physical distancing measures will be applied, such as tables being spaced out
  • face coverings must be worn other than when seated to eat or drink

When utilising outdoor spaces, hospitality venues are required to ensure that the use of physical coverings, awnings, gazebos, marquees and similar structures are implemented in a way that is aligned with current public health advice. Generally this means that structures with a roof or ceiling must be open-sided (at least 3 sides or more than 51% open).

You can visit outdoor spaces of hospitality venues such as cafés, restaurants, pubs and bars with your household or up to thirty people (not including any children or carers from any of these households).

You can visit indoor spaces of hospitality venues such as cafés, restaurants, pubs and bars with people you live with or in a group of up to six people from up to six households (not including children under 11 or carers from any of these households).

However, if you wanted to visit hospitality venues indoors with people you do not live with, but are part of your extended household, that gathering should contain no more than six people from up to six households at any one time (excluding any carers or children under 11 from any of these households).

Visitor attractions

All visitor attractions can now re-open, including funfairs, museums, galleries, historical monuments and parks.

Venues are required to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus. For example:

  • customers will be encouraged to pre-book with details of all members of the group.
  • contact details will be required for contact tracing purposes
  • entry to the premises will be controlled
  • licenced premises, such as pubs, will be providing table service only
  • all food and drink should be consumed at tables
  • physical distancing measures will be applied, such as tables being spaced out
  • face coverings must be worn other than when seated to eat or drink

When utilising outdoor spaces, venues are required to ensure that the use of physical coverings, awnings, gazebos, marquees and similar structures are implemented in a way that is aligned with current public health advice. Generally this means that structures with a roof or ceiling must be open-sided (at least 3 sides or more than 51% open).

You can visit outdoor and indoor spaces of these attractions with people you live with  or in a group up to six people from up to six households (not including any children or carers from any of these households).

However, if you wanted to visit attractions outdoors and indoors with people you do not live with, but are part of your extended household, that indoor gathering should contain no more than six people from up to six households at any one time (excluding any carers or children under 11 from any of these households).

Regulated gatherings

Regulated gatherings encompass a broad range of activities that can be attended by people of any age. These activities include activities that were previously referred to as organised activities and allow for larger scale events, which includes but is not limited to

  • Team sports
  • Exercise classes
  • Meetings of religious groups and support groups
  • Guided tours
  • Parkrun
  • Car boot sales
  • Fetes
  • Live music concerts
  • Food Festivals

Regulated gatherings will vary in size and the capacity for different regulated gatherings will be determined by a risk assessment which includes taking all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to and spread of coronavirus. Reasonable measures includes ensuring social distancing can be maintained.

Maximum numbers who may attend regulated gatherings outdoors is up to 4,000 people of any age (standing) and 10000 people of any age seated.

If the organised activity is taking place indoors, the maximum number of people aged 11 and over that can take part is 30.

Regulated gatherings can include activities such as celebrations, however these must be organised by a business, public body or a charitable, benevolent, educational or philanthropic institution, a club or political organisation, or the national governing body of a sport or other activity. The organiser of the activity must meet requirements in the regulations to undertake a risk assessment and take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus

  • Non-regulated gatherings, including celebrations or wider social gatherings of families and friends must follow the arrangements for gathering with other people, which is up to 30 people outdoors. It is important to continue to maintain social distancing, including outdoors during these gatherings

Non-regulated gatherings including celebrations or wider social gatherings of families and friends indoors must follow the arrangements for gathering with other people, which is individual household or extended household only in private homes or up to six people from up to six households (not including children under 11 or carers of these households) in regulated premises. It is important to continue to maintain social distancing, including outdoors during these gatherings

Organised activities solely for  the development and well-being of children and young people (known as regulated gatherings for the development and well-being of children and young people in the Health Protection regulations)  are allowed indoors and outdoors. This includes sports clubs, parent and toddler groups, youth groups and religious groups. This applies to children aged under 18 (or persons who were aged under 18 on 31 August 2020). 

Residential activities that would need to utilise shared accommodation (such as mixed household dormitories) are not permitted at this time.

Clubs used as childcare, such as holiday or wrap-around childcare, can continue.

Organisers have a duty to take all reasonable measures to ensure that these activities take place in a way that minimises exposure to coronavirus. Therefore, risk assessments should consider the space available to allow social distancing as far as is possible with children and limit the number of children that can attend.

Regulated gatherings indoors that include the consumption of food or drinks must follow the rules on hospitality: people must be seated in groups of a maximum of 6 people from up to 6 households (not including children under 11 or carers from any of these households) when consuming food or drinks. This applied to events that are held indoors and outdoors.

Work

We are still encouraging people to work from home where possible. People who are not able to work from home, but are able to work safely in their workplaces, can do so, provided their workplace remains open. This include occupations like construction and manufacturing as well as public services that rely on face to face provision.

You can undertake voluntary work if you wish to do so, but again you should do so from home if reasonably practicable.

Travel

Travel within Wales

There are no travel restrictions in place within Wales. This means that you are allowed to travel anywhere within Wales for any purpose. This includes overnight stays in self-contained accommodation with members of your household or extended household.

Travel in to and out of Wales

There are no restrictions in place for travel into and out of Wales. People living in Wales do not need a reasonable excuse to travel outside of Wales, as long as they are travelling to a country within the UK or wider Common Travel Area (CTA). Likewise, people living elsewhere in the CTA can travel into Wales. However, people will need to check the restrictions in place in the country they are travelling to or from as some countries within the CTA have travel restrictions in place that may prevent people travelling unless they have a reasonable excuse.

We are asking everyone to think carefully about the journeys they take and the people they meet. We should all think carefully about where we go and who we meet because the more places we go and the more people we meet, the greater the chances there are of catching coronavirus.

International travel will restart from Monday 17 May. A traffic light system, aligned with England and Scotland, will be introduced, which will classify countries as green, amber and red. Different rules will apply for your return to Wales in terms of which category of country you have visited. 

Before you travel you must consult the requirements for visitors for the country you plan to travel to. Restrictions may be in place, including proof of vaccination, tests, quarantine and reasons for entry. 

Similar arrangements apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The UK Government has in place guidance for areas where there are higher rates of coronavirus circulating which advises people to minimise travel, and for regular testing of people in those areas. Separate rules apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where travel may be restricted to or from different places.

We are not introducing any legal restrictions on travel within the UK at this point but it is our clear advice that people should not travel to areas with high prevalence of coronavirus if they can avoid it. There is an increased risk of contracting COVID-19, even if vaccinated, in those areas so you should avoid travelling to them if possible.

We would urge anyone planning a break in Wales from an area with higher rates of coronavirus to test themselves twice weekly, using the free COVID-19 lateral flow tests, before they travel. Only those who have a negative test result and no symptoms of coronavirus should travel. Everyone coming to Wales from areas with a higher rates of coronavirus should bring lateral flow testing kits with them to continue regular testing while on holiday.

Lateral flow testing kits are available from local collection points across the UK. More information is available at: Regular rapid lateral flow coronavirus (COVID-19) tests - NHS (www.nhs.uk)