As I sit at home listening to the PM's COVID speech on the BBC "News at Six" never has "six" meant more. I live near Hampton Court Palace former home of Henry VIII and his "six" wives and the new Six Restaurant. As a child, one of my favourite children's books was "Now We Are Six" by AA Milne. Yet today the number six means more COVID restrictions for six months, in particular only being able to meet up in groups of six, indoors or outdoors and maintaining six feet distancing (approx. 2 metres).
The PM's speech made it very clear on how hard it is to juggle the wealth and welfare of a nation faced with an invisible and yet deadly enemy, whose invisibility until it strikes leaves many complacent. The new six rules outlined are:
If you work in an office and can - stay at home.
The very nature of the hospitality industry meant that it was yet again affected by new measures a 10 pm curfew, except for deliveries and masks at all times by customers and staff except when eating or drinking at a table and no more bar service.
Masks across retail including staff.
In retail, leisure, tourism, and other sectors, the COVID-secure guidelines will become legal obligations enforced with fines or closure.
Tightening up the rule of six and from Monday, a maximum of 15 people will be able to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions. How do you explain that to the future in-laws who've already bought their hats! The rule of six has also been extended to all adult indoor team sports,
Business conferences, exhibitions, and large sporting events will remain closed and not reopen as planned - good job WTM and the Meetings Show had decided to pull their live shows in the past couple of weeks.
All for six months at least and if you don't comply with self-isolation you could face a fine of £10,000 and forget that mask and its £250, with more police and military freed-up and funding to enforce the new Rules of Six.
The statistics quoted, including a rise to 248 daily English Hospital admittances, make the aim of reaching the R number of 1 difficult without restrictions being imposed.
Travel restrictions are already in place and tightening with travel abroad not being recommended for the school holidays.
Although many of us are complying, for every one of us who doesn't 11 people could die. So we can't rely on rolling that dice and hoping for a six, we need to follow the Rules of Six.