Boris Johnson’s controversial ban on groups of more than six meeting has sparked a furious Cabinet backlash.
Most senior ministers spoke out against the new ‘rule of six’ at a key coronavirus strategy committee meeting on Tuesday, The Daily Mail reported.
But Health Secretary Matt Hancock pushed through the restriction with the backing of top scientists.
A Cabinet source told the newspaper: “Everyone apart from Hancock wanted to see the limit on groups at eight or more.
“Even the PM was initially cautious about taking the limit all the way down to six.
“The majority view was that this level of social distancing will have a huge impact on people’s lives and the economy. But Hancock got his way.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Business Secretary Alok Sharma both reportedly pressed for the limit to be cut to eight instead.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is also said to have raised concerns.
A Downing Street insider last night insisted the PM had not been pressured into making the move.
An insider said: “The PM wasn’t talked round by anyone.”
The clampdown comes as coronavirus cases continue to soar across the UK.
The new rules will come into effect on Monday, September 14, to gatherings in private homes, parks, pubs and restaurants.
Matt Hancock said the rules would be in place for the “foreseeable future”.
“I really hope we can turn this round before Christmas. I think that, in a pandemic, Christmas is a long way off,” he told BBC Radio 4.
“Three months is a long time in a pandemic and I very much hope this strong rule, together with the local action we’ve taken in places like Bolton… I very hope much therefore this can work to do that by Christmas.”
People caught breaking the rules will be slapped with £100 fines, doubling for each repeat offence up to £3,200.
Marshals will also be brought in to enforce social distancing in city centres.
The rule of 6 will include children, so if there is a household of five with three kids and two parents, they will only be able to meet up with one other person.
Family gatherings won’t be able to take place if the total number exceeds six people.
Weddings and funerals can go ahead with a limit of up to 30 people in a location that follows Covid-19 guidelines – meaning it cannot be hosted in a home or garden.
Couples do not need to wear masks on their special day but if you are planning on exchanging rings, then you will need to wash your hands first.
Weddings should be kept “as short as reasonably possible” and limited to just what is legally binding.
Guests must keep socially distant where possible during the ceremony and after-party in a Covid-secure venue.
Seating should be arranged so guests can keep socially distant and remain in familial pods.
Wedding buffets are out as formal, plated meals become the norm with a maximum of two households per table during the meal.
Thirty people can attend funerals with social distancing taking place and must wear a face covering.