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expert reaction to MPs voting to keep the rule of six by 287 votes to 17

In a vote in the House of Commons, MPS voted in favour of keeping the ‘rule of six’ COVID-19 restriction in place.


Dr Julian Tang, Honorary Associate Professor in Respiratory Sciences and Clinical Virologist, University of Leicester, said:

“This result is good news – as we are still trying to control this virus rather than letting it spread unchecked through the community.

“The number of 6 in the ‘rule of 6’ seems arbitrary – it could just as well be 5 or 7 – but the point is to reduce the amount of contact between susceptible people.

“The 10 pm curfew is similar.  It is not saying that the virus stops transmitting after 10 pm.  It just acts to disperse people earlier to reduce the number of people to whom it can spread.  But to be effective, the spirit of the curfew needs to be sustained after people leave the pubs – and not for people to go to supermarkets and other people’s homes to continuing drinking/socialising, but to go home quietly in a socially distanced manner to help stop the virus transmitting any further.

“These measures along with masking and maintaining social distancing in crowded areas are all smaller, less disruptive measures combining to reduce the spread of the virus – to avoid another total lockdown and allow businesses to continue, particularly the hospitality/ service sectors, many of which employ the younger generation.

“Also we need to give time for such measures to work – asking for evidence of effectiveness (presumably a reduction in the number of daily new COVID-19 cases) one week after implementing these measures is not reasonable.  We may have to wait 3-4 viral incubation periods (20-30 days) to see any impact of these measures.

“But with the COVID-19 cases rising so quickly across the population now, such limited restrictions may not be sufficient to reduce further transmission of the virus within this shorter time period – and unfortunately, stronger measures may now be needed.”


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