Interim Destination and Policy Update

16 September 2020

Further to UK Prime Minister’s announcement on Wednesday 9 September on the ‘rule of six’ for social gatherings in England and subsequent announcements from the Scottish and Welsh governments, below is our current understanding on how this affects organised group tours in each country of the UK.

In short, we understand there are no restrictions on the number allowed on-board a coach which is dependant on each operator’s risk assessment, but when the group arrives at a hotel, restaurant or attraction, they have to sub-divide into groups of six in England, Scotland and when indoors in Wales (‘rule of six’ is not applicable in Northern Ireland if measures below complied with). If there is a guide with a group, then they cannot be guided en masse outside the coach if the number of clients exceeds 30. Please note the restriction on what makes up a group of six in England, Scotland and Wales.

There is no end date for the ‘rule of six’ but will be regularly reviewed.





The ‘rule of six’ applies when visiting a hotel, restaurant or attraction and applicable to all ages. There are exemptions where groups may be greater than six and persons working (e.g. guide or driver) are excluded from the six. The legislation can be found here and guidance has been issued by UK Government here which includes the list of exemptions in section 2.10. Please note tighter restrictions may apply in local lockdown areas (latest list here). Currently, this is only the case for private dwellings in local lockdown areas.

Our understanding is the ‘rule of six’ does not apply when on-board a coach as transport operators are following guidance for public transport operators (which includes ‘closed door’ coach services) and remains the same. Further to queries from members there is no defined coach capacity with regards to following COVID-19 guidelines. This is because capacity will depend on circumstances identified by each operator’s risk assessment such as size of coach, group profile, number of drivers on the tour and risk mitigation measures such as cleaning and boarding procedures. When not on-board the coach the ‘rule of six’ will apply. Guidance for the visitor economy (2.2.2) states that “guided tours of up to 30 people may take place indoors or outdoors provided businesses undertake risk assessments in line with this guidance document and put any necessary mitigations in place”.

Further information from Visit Britain/Visit England.


Northern Ireland

Group tours are subject to The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 – Section 5. However, the restriction on gatherings of 15 outside and 6 inside will not apply if the organiser:

(a) has carried out a risk assessment which meets the requirements of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000(b), whether or not that person is subject to those Regulations;

(b) takes all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus, including implementing the preventive and protective measures identified in the risk assessment undertaken in accordance with sub-paragraph (a) and complying with any relevant guidance issued by a Northern Ireland Department.

Tourism Northern Ireland have a business support helpline for further information.



The ‘rule of six’ does not count children under 12 but must not be formed of greater than two households. Like England, the ‘rule of six’ will apply when visiting a hotel, restaurant or attraction. As coach operators are following sector specific guidance, we understand the ‘rule of six’ will not apply on-board a coach. Announcement by Scottish Government here. Please note tighter restrictions may apply in local lockdown areas (latest list here).

Further information from Visit Scotland (found in ‘limits for meeting others’ drop-down list).



The ‘rule of six’ only applies indoor and does not count children under 11 but must not be formed of greater than four households where a ‘bubble’ has been formed. Outside, the limit of 30 applies. Announcement by Welsh Government here. Please note tighter restrictions may apply in local lockdown areas (latest list here).

Further information from Visit Wales.


Please contact us with additional questions and links to further information on other UK topics can be found on our United Kingdom COVID-19 resources page.

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