Hospitality venues that fail to ensure their sites remain ‘covid-secure’ under the government’s new ‘rule of six’ measures will be subject to fines from Monday, the Prime Minister has announced.

In response to a recent spike in cases across the country, people will be legally required to keep social groups to a maximum of six people from next week, and pubs, restaurants and bars allowing people to flout the rules will be subject to fines, or even closure.

Explaining the new measures at today’s briefing (9 September), prime minister Boris Johnson said the “rule of six” will “apply in any setting indoors or outdoors, at home or in the pub. The ban will be set out in law, and it will be enforced by the police.

“And anyone breaking the rules will risk being dispersed, fined and possibly arrested.”

“We will support local authorities to make further and faster use of their powers to close venues that are breaking the rules and pose a risk to public health,” he continued. “Fines will be levied against hospitality venues that fail to ensure their premises remain covid-secure.”

From Monday, businesses will also be legally required to request the contact details of a member of each party, record and retain the details for 21 days, and provide them to NHS test and trace “without delay when required,” he said.

In line with measures already implemented in areas of local lockdown, the opening hours of premises could also be restricted in certain areas, and the government has committed to boosting the enforcement capacity of local authorities by introducing covid-secure marshals to help ensure social distancing in town and city centres, and setting up a register of environmental health officers that local authorities can draw on.

Schools and workplaces will be unaffected by the new measures, but Johnson said the crackdown could lead to a revision of planned pilots for larger audiences in venues later this month, as well as plans to reopen stadiums and conference centres in October.

“That doesn’t mean we’re going to scrap the programme entirely, we just have to review it,” he said.

“I will be absolutely clear, these measures are not another national lockdown. The whole point of them is to avoid a second national lockdown.

“By bearing down on social contact and improving enforcement, we can keep schools and businesses open in the knowledge that they are covid-secure.”

More optimistically, Johnson revealed that the government has been exploring a plan for “mass testing,” which it is hoped “could allow life to return to a place closer to normality.”

The new tests would be used to identify people who are negative, he explained, to allow them to live their lives in a more “normal” way.

“And we think, we hope, we believe, that new types of tests, which are simple, quick and scalable, will become available,” he said.

“All this progress is contingent on continued scientific advances, and though we’re hopeful I cannot 100% guarantee that those advances will be made. That is why it’s so important that we take these tough measures now.

“I believe that we will continue to drive this virus down and that we will beat this virus before too long. So, let’s work together. Let’s follow the rules. Meet in groups of no more than six, wash your hands, cover your face, make space.”