FRUSTRATED residents have called contradictions in the 'rule of six' social restrictions "ridiculous" after they came into force yesterday, following a rise in Covid-19 cases in Worcestershire. The rule, that a maximum of six people from two different households will be able to gather together at any one time, began on Monday. Anyone found breaking it risks a £100 fine which doubles on each further offence.

Mum-of-five Lucy Bartlett said that, as they are a family of seven, if anyone came round to their Droitwich home they would be breaking the law. While mum-of-three Rebekkah Upwood said her family of five meant only one other person could come to their Worcester home.

Mrs Bartlett, 38, said: "There is me, my husband, and five children all under 11. We are now in a position where we can’t see anybody.

“We moved to the area a year-and-a-half ago. My family are an hour-and-a-half away so when they come they would stay. Now we won’t see them. The only way is if I took the children in instalments.

“Everything we have been through - children are going back to school and are told that is safe, but now they are being told ‘don’t kill your granny’. It is ridiculous.”

Meanwhile, Mrs Upwood said: “I’m a childminder so I have up to seven children running around my house Monday to Friday, from up to seven different households. Yet we can only have one family member over on the weekend."

The 31-year-old, who runs the childminders from her home in St John’s, said what especially did not make sense was her children were aged 11, nine and two and in Scotland and Wales children that age are not included within the 'rule of six' count.

“It all seems a bit daft,” Mrs Upwood said. “We haven’t got a big family, we have a nan, grandad, aunties and uncles, but they couldn’t visit together.

“I suppose they have to come over one at a time, but then they can go back to their household together.

“We all have to follow the rules. But why do we have different rules to Scotland (with not including children) - it is something I don’t understand.

“Childminders I feel have not had much guidance. From the start we were a bit forgotten. We are at home, so there should be rules that apply only for us. Some childminders have finished - we will keep going.”

Mrs Upwood said she was interested to see if the rule of six would have an effect.

“If the cases go down, well done for bringing it in - but I have not got high hopes,” she added.

Steve Redfern, 51, from Droitwich, said: “My wife is a childminder so we will have a house full of other people’s children, plus parents during drop off and collection. However, as a family of seven, we can’t have grandparents or friends over to visit.

“There is me and my wife, four children and our grandson living at home with us.

“It just feels like another of those rules made with good intentions, but without thinking through all of the consequences.

“I’m (soon) going to go back to the office mixing with 250 people. After work I could go to the pub or restaurant and mix with people, but when I get home I can’t see my mother.

“The trouble is when rules like this are made they can’t be stuck to, and you question what the benefit is anyway.”

Ange Bartlett added: “I am devastated it means I can’t visit a branch of my family, and I am livid that the government will make me a criminal if I do.”

In a recent Twitter poll we asked Worcester News readers if they were confused by the new rules and, out of 165 votes, it was a close result with 50.9 per cent saying they were.

Meanwhile, as the new rule became law, new data was released showed a significant rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in the county.

The latest Public Health England (PHE) figures show Worcester had, during the week up to last Thursday, (September 10), an infection rate of 13.9 cases per 100,000 people, up from 10.9 the week before.

Wychavon is up to 27.8 from 10.8 the week before, Malvern is on 25.4 up from 19.1, while Bromsgrove - the worst hit area in terms of Covid-19 deaths in the pandemic - has reached 32, up from 20. Wyre Forest is up to 14.8, from 8.9 the previous week, while Redditch is down to 11.7 from 16.4.

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