SOCIAL gatherings of more than six people are illegal from today under new rules.

The law change means larger groups meeting indoors or outdoors could face fines of up to £3,200 if repeatedly ignored.

The changes do not apply to schools, workplaces, weddings, funerals and organised team sports.

Those found breaking the law will face a £100 fine which double on each offence up to a maximum of £3,200.

Until today, government guidance said two households of any size were allowed to meet indoors or outdoors, or up to six people from different households outdoors and the police had no powers to stop gatherings unless they exceeded 30 people.

A single household or support bubble that is larger than six people will still be able to gather and venues like places of worship, gyms, restaurants and hospitality settings can still hold more than six in total.

Schools and workplaces are not affected by the new rules whilst weddings and funerals can still go ahead with a limit of 30 people if conducted in a Covid-secure way.

West Mercia Police said officers would continue to be visible and will hand out fines "where appropriate."

Superintendent Sue Thomas of West Mercia Police said: “Nationally we’re starting to see a rise in infections and so it’s vital that each and every one of us plays our part in reducing the spread of coronavirus by following the regulations and guidelines the Government have put in place.

“Over the last seven months the vast majority of people across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire have done the right thing and adhered to the guidelines and we are sure this will remain the case.

“However, we will continue to be visible in our communities and we will speak to those seen breaking the rules.

“Where it’s appropriate to do so we will use our powers and enforce the fine.”

On top of the clampdown on social gatherings, businesses have been instructed to support the NHS Test and Trace system by making it mandatory to collect data and keep it for 21 days.

Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses will also be forced to collect customers' details, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, instead of it just being voluntary.

The crackdown comes after warnings from government medical chiefs that the public are now too relaxed about coronavirus.