Health Secretary urges students to respect new law on mass gatherings

10 September 2020, 12:15 | Updated: 10 September 2020, 12:17

Matt Hancock urged students to follow the new rules
Matt Hancock urged students to follow the new rules. Picture: PA

Matt Hancock has urged students to respect the government's new 'rule of six' law on public gatherings.

Speaking in the Commons ahead of university freshers' week next week, the Health Secretary said: "Our goal as much as possible is to protect keeping schools and businesses open whilst controlling the virus.

"The data show that whilst the cases amongst 17-30-year-olds are rising, the number of cases amongst the under-16s remain very low, and we all know how important it is to keep schools open."

Read more: What are the new rules on social gatherings in England?

"The Department for Education has published the updated guidance for universities on how they can operate in a Covid-secure way, and this includes a clear request not to send students home in the event of an outbreak in order to avoid spreading the virus further across the country.

"If you are a student who is about to return to university or go to university for the first time then please, for the sake of your education and your parents' and grandparents' health, follow the rules and don't gather in groups of more than six."

Mr Hancock also said the new restrictions will not be kept in place "for any longer than we have to".

He told MPs: "As the chief medical officer said yesterday, we must learn from the recent experience of countries like Belgium who successfully put in place these measures to combat a similar rise in infections."

Mr Hancock added: "These are not measures that we take lightly. I understand that for many they'll mean changing long-awaited plans or missing out on precious moments with loved ones, but this sacrifice is vital to control the virus for the long term and save lives.

"And I vow that we will not keep these rules in place for any longer than we have to."