Dorset residents are being urged to play their part to prevent the spread of coronavirus after new regulations came into effect making it illegal for groups of more than six people to gather socially.

Police now have the powers to disperse any gatherings of more than size people inside or outside. People could be subject to a £100 fine if they refuse to comply.

Dorset Police will be adopting a 4Es approach to the new legislation - using engagement, education and encouragement - to ask members of the public to comply with the regulations. Enforcement remains a final option.

Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya said: “Preventing the spread of COVID-19 is a shared effort and Dorset Police will play a part alongside the Government, businesses, hospitality owners, local authorities and others.

“The change to COVID-19 legislation, and subsequent change in the law, means everyone has a legal responsibility to play their part and not gather in a group of more than six people.

“Those doing so will be proactively challenged and engaged with by police, but my hope is the vast majority of communities and visitors to Dorset will comply and we will not see large numbers of fixed penalty notices being issued.

“The new rules are clear and very easy to understand. We all have a personal responsibility for following them to help stop the spread of a deadly virus.”

There are some exceptions to these rules, including if everyone in the group is a member of the same household or two linked households.

The new regulations do not refer to schools or other childcare, education or training, the workplace, for voluntary charitable purposes or providing support to a vulnerable person.