Home secretary Priti Patel announced a new fine for people caught at house parties.

From next week, police will be able to issue an £800 fine to anyone found to be attending a gathering of more than 15 people. Fines double for repeat offences, which is capped at a maximum of £6,400 on the spot.

Under existing rules, organisers of gatherings of more than 30 people can be fined £10,000 by police. And anyone found to be breaking the Covid rules in general, which includes meeting with people socially outside your household or support bubble, can be fined £200 on the spot. This also doubles up to a maximum of £6,400 with each offence.

Announcing the new rules specifically for party-goers at a Downing Street press conference, Patel said:  

“If you don’t follow these rules, then the police will enforce them. Police officers are now moving more quickly to handing out fines when they encounter breaches and they have my absolute backing in doing so.”

She also explained the rules in a statement on social media and through a Home Office graphic. Which is where the jokes started…

Because, first of all, why did she use that font for the words “house party”?

(People also pointed out that the change in font meant that the words “house party” are skipped for visually impaired people with screen readers, rendering the message altogether meaningless.) 

The graphic itself also raises a few questions. Like is a house party defined as more than 15 people or 15 people plus? And why does the graphic look like a trendy nightclub poster?

Much of the ridicule, though, stemmed from the fact that people think Patel’s “baffling” explanation of the rules makes it sound like indoor gatherings are fine as long as they’re made up of less than 15 people. (This is not the case – indoor mixing is still banned.) 

Obviously, there were memes.

And jokes about Patel herself…

… and how tempting she made house parties sound.

But sadly, parties aren’t back on the agenda just yet. No matter how furious that might make “Bristol ravers".

Ultimately, rules like the ban on gatherings are in place to help keep us safe from Covid.

But the government could communicate them a little bit more clearly – and drop the fancy italics next time.

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