Government to cut numbers we can see at home in response to coronavirus surge

Scientists are concerned a rise in an infections in younger people could spread to older people leading to more hospitalisation. Credit: PA

The government is to significantly reduce the threshold for lawful gatherings of people in homes in England from the current 30, perhaps to as low as six, I understand.

This is a first response to the significant spike to circa 3,000 a day in Covid-19 infections we've seen.

At the moment, attending a gathering of more than 30 is punishable with a £100 fine and organising such an event risks a £10,000 fine.

Under a reduced threshold, due to be announced perhaps today, the police would empowered to break up and levy fines on much smaller groups.

The new threshold has not yet been decided however.

One source says that this is a response to the "early warning system" going off in the Joint Biosecurity Centre, which is charged with advising the government on whether the rate of infection is rising in a dangerous way.

A scientist who advises the government told me he was very concerned that the rise in infections among younger people will rapidly spread to older more vulnerable individuals, and we'll see a disturbing rise in hospitalisations.

Downing Street and the Treasury are also under pressure to roll out the new compensation scheme for those forced to quarantine - which is undergoing a local trial - because of concerns that some are refusing to isolate because they cannot afford to do so.