Rule of Six Doesn’t Apply to the Lonely

A reader has spotted a loophole in the law that means the Rule of Six doesn’t apply to anyone who is feeling lonely or depressed.

Having perused the new regulations in the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Medium) Regulations 2020, under Statutory Instrument Number 1103 that came into force on October 14th, I noticed a number of exemptions to the so-called Rule of Six.

Under Schedule 1 (Tier 1 Restrictions), Regulation 3, Part 1 (Restrictions on gatherings), Paragraph 3 (Exceptions), subsection 4(e) the following is written: “Exception 3 is that the gathering is reasonably necessary to enable one or more people in the gathering to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm.”

As the good people of Law or Fiction pointed out, Low Mood, Sadness and Depression act as reasonable excuses for such exceptions. If one feels lonely or depressed, then as far as I can see the law allows for gatherings of more than six.

Sorry if this is a bit confusing, legal specifics aren’t my forte. You’ll find the relevant text in the regulations, about a third of the way down.

I don’t want this to be some sort of get-out-of-jail card to be abused. I’ve had mental illness in the past and depression that sucks the life out of you, and this entire saga is bringing me back to those lows. If depression takes hold, it is very hard to escape, and very easy to see how it can cause personal harm.

This reader spotted a gem at the bottom of the new guidance: “No impact assessment has been prepared for these Regulations.”