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The University and the ‘Rule of Six’

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With new rules now in force regarding group gatherings, we wanted to share details of how the University is implementing the ‘rule of six’. It is designed to support critical University activity, particularly as students arrive or return, while keeping our community safe.

What do the government rules say?

The new legislation, which came into force in England on Monday 14 September, tightens restrictions on group meetings or gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Dubbed the ‘rule of six’, people from different households are not permitted to meet or socialise in groups of larger than six, whether indoors or outdoors.

There are some exceptions. For example, the limit of six does not apply if your household or support bubble is more than six, you can still gather together in a group.

There are other exceptions for organisations  such as the University that allow us to host more than six people in a group or gathering, for example if: 

  • a gathering is reasonably necessary to the provision of education or to enable people to work; or
  • people are gathered in groups of no more than six as part of a larger gathering

and in all cases where we are following COVID-19 secure guidelines.

The exceptions do not allow for purely social gatherings of more than six colleagues or students, unless they happen to be from the same household or support bubble.

What does this mean for activities in the autumn term?

To protect our whole community we are continuing to prioritise activity on campus. Such ‘prioritised' activities include the delivery and support for timetabled face-to-face teaching in line with our blended approach and research that can only be undertaken on campus. It also includes the wider provision of support services and facilities needed to offer our students the best possible experience and ensure our colleagues who need to be on campus are supported too.

This means that for meetings, events and all other activity the ‘virtual-first’ approach will continue for the whole of the autumn term.

The ‘University and the Rule of Six’ table provides details of how the rule applies for our various activities.

What should I do if I want to organise an event in the autumn term?

The University’s Major Recovery Team have agreed only the following priority event categories can be delivered on-campus during the autumn term:

  • student engagement
  • student recruitment
  • commercial 

This approach will be reviewed regularly to ensure we are reflecting the most up-to-date laws and government guidelines and we will communicate any updates to you.

What does this mean if I am planning an event?

If you are planning to organise an event in one of the above categories or if you organise events as part of your role, we have developed the following set of processes and procedures to help you, so please make sure you familiarise yourself with them:

  1. All events, other than those booked via Venue Reading or Venue Henley, must be approved through the Event Notification process, which has been modified to include COVID-19-secure requirements. To do this, event organisers must complete and submit the online approval form and a full event risk assessment at least 28 days in advance of their planned event. An event notification is not required for teaching activity, regular work meetings or off-campus events.
  2. All events should observe a 2m social distance where at all possible (the University’s social distancing guidance can be found here). Where this is not possible it will need to be highlighted in the risk assessment and further mitigations must be put in place.
  3. Events should only take place in suitable COVID-19-secure spaces on campus. Indoor and outdoor spaces on campus are bookable for such activities. At Whiteknights or London Road contact Venue Reading for outdoor bookings and Central Room Booking and Timetabling for indoor bookings. At Greenlands, contact Venue Henley
  4. The University policy on face coverings should be adhered to for all events.
  5.  Scheduling of events should be carefully considered to prevent interference with the core business of the University, in particular teaching and research.
  6. All events must abide by the rule of six as it applies to the particular activity being planned (see The ‘University and the Rule of Six’ table). In addition, where possible, events should not exceed 30 people. Where it is proposed that a group larger than 30 is to be gathered, a case will need to be made as part of the Event Notification process, and is likely to be approved only in exceptional circumstances.
  7. All events must include pre-registration and/or attendance monitoring in line with the NHS Test and Trace scheme. The NHS COVID-19 app and on-campus QR codes should be used at all events.
  8. Event organisers and attendees must follow government guidelines, University policies and COVID-secure safety measures.

There is lots of guidance and support for arranging virtual events available here

If you have any questions about the Event Notification process or about how to gain approval for a face to face event please contact

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