With the rise in cases, the UK government announced the Rule of Six as an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. To help add some clarity on what this means for churches in the UK, we’ve gathered some updated guidance.

Why the Rule of Six?

According to Health Secretary Matt Hancock “Most people catching the virus are catching in social settings.”

The government established the Rule of Six on September 14 to limit social interaction. The Rule applies across indoor and outdoor settings and individuals who do not follow the rule can incur fines.

A group of six is defined differently by region. Here’s a quick primer


  • England: six people from multiple households
  • Scotland: Up to six aged 12+ from two households
  • Wales: Up to 30 outdoors, applicable to age 11+
  • Northern Ireland: Up to 15

In general, those not in a group of six should remain at a distance of 2m apart (or 1m plus in England)


  • England: six people from multiple households
  • Scotland: Up to six aged 12+ from two households
  • Wales: Four households can form on extended household
  • Northern Ireland: Six people from two households

Exceptions to the Rule of Six:

The size permitted does not apply to school or work. Other exceptions include weddings and life cycle events, such as a funeral. These events may occur with no more than 30 people present.

Small wedding receptions can take place indoors but follow the rule of six for seating and gathering. Receptions are not permitted following a larger wedding or a funeral.

What does the Rule Mean for In-Person Church?

Under the changes, larger gatherings venues following COVID-19 secure guidelines can continue to host more people in total. This includes religious services in places of worship. But groups larger than six should not mix socially within the venue, or form larger groups.

When possible, use a booking tool to ensure that your venue is not overcrowded during an event.

When visitors attend, they should:

  • Follow the limits on the number of other people in a group
  • Avoid social interaction with anyone outside the group of six
  • Provide contact details to the organiser and adhere to the NHS Test and Trace programme
  • No food or drink as part of the event unless requires for purposes of solemnisation.
  • Follow guidelines around hands, face, and space.

The rule of six remains in place until otherwise notified.