Restrictions banning social gatherings of more than six people have come into effect in England, after a spike in coronavirus cases.
The “rule of six”, which applies both at home and abroad, does not exclude children under the age of 12 in England.
Similar restrictions in Wales and Scotland do not apply to children under the age of 11 and 12 respectively.
The government said the new rules on social distancing are easier for people to understand.
But some Conservative MPs pressured the government to follow Wales and Scotland in exempting young children.
Former minister Steve Baker said the latest government action amounted to “arbitrary powers without scrutiny” and Representative Desmond Swain said it was “outrageous” not to hold a parliamentary debate.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove defended the new measures in England as “absolutely correct”, saying that some people had “unintentionally” contributed to the spread of the virus because of the way they interacted.
“Therefore, a clear message – as simple as possible – makes it easier for all of us to do what is beneficial to others,” Goff said.
Home Secretary Priti Patel urged the public not to break the rules.
“Across the country, we have made enormous sacrifices in the fight against the Coronavirus. However, the recent rise in the number of cases demonstrates that more needs to be done to stop the spread of this disease,” said Ms. Patel.
Under the new rules, large gatherings are still permitted in gyms, schools, places of worship, weddings and funerals. Education and work settings are not affected.
The “rule of six” in England replaces the current ban on gatherings of more than 30 people and the current directive on allowing two families to meet indoors.
England, Scotland and Wales all have new restrictions. Northern Ireland has not announced any changes.
Groups over six can be divided by the police, with group members facing fines of £ 100 for the first offense, and doubling for every other crime of up to £ 3,200.
The Metropolitan Police said it would spread resources across the capital to impose tougher restrictions on social gatherings.
But the West Yorkshire Police Union, which represents ordinary officers, has warned that staff are already so overstretched that relying solely on the police to enforce the new law is unrealistic.
Martin Hewitt, Chairman of the Council of National Police Chiefs, said preventing the spread of the Coronavirus is a “joint effort”.
He said: “The demands on the police force are now at levels similar to before the epidemic, which makes it extremely important that we all bear personal responsibility, abide by borders and prevent the spread of this deadly virus.”
The government said Covid-secure guards will be introduced at town and city centers to help ensure the rules are followed.
But local councils – which are expected to provide staff – say they will need full funding.
The new rules come as the UK’s R number escalates, rising to between 1 and 1.2 for the first time since March.
Any number above one indicates that the number of infections is increasing.
Another 3,330 positive cases were recorded in the UK on Sunday – the third day in a row that cases have exceeded 3,000.
Another five deaths were also reported of people who had tested positive in the past 28 days, bringing the total UK number to 41,628.
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