TODAY the new 'rule of six' has come into force to stop the spread of coronavirus. 

Anyone meeting in groups of more than six, indoors and outdoors, will now be breaking the law. 

Those caught flouting the rules will be split up and could be slapped with a fine, or even be arrested - police have warned.

First-time rule breakers will be fined £100, doubling each time to a maximum of £3,200 for repeat offenders. 

Those hosting raves or big parties can also risk facing a £10,000 fine. 

Thames Valley Police say officers will 'engage, explain and encourage' people to follow the new regulations - which were published last night, around 30 minutes before they came into effect. 

Assistant chief constable Christian Bunt said: “Preventing the spread of coronavirus is a shared effort and we at Thames Valley Police will play our part.

“The new rules coming into place [today] are very clear and we hope that all members of the public will follow them.

“Our officers will be in the community engaging, explaining and encouraging people to follow the regulations. We will disperse groups of more than six people and will issue fines to those who refuse to comply.

“However, there are a range of enforcement options at our disposal, and this does not always involve fines being issued.

“Members of the public can expect to see officers out on patrol but we ask that everyone takes personal responsibility so police involvement is a last resort.”

During lockdown, hundreds of people across Oxfordshire, Berkhire and Buckinghamshire were fined for leaving their homes without a valid excuse. 

Between March 27 and April 27, the force had handed the most lockdown fines out of all the police forces in the country - including the capital's Met Police and forces with denser populations.