“Heartbroken” was how Chloe Cotton felt on Tuesday, as she learned that Boris Johnson had announced new mass gathering restrictions in the UK.

Late on Tuesday evening, the Government announced that gatherings of more than six people were to be banned from Monday, with fines introduced for those who flout the rules. This was later clarified as a “rule of six” in a press conference at Downing Street.

For Chloe, who owns Andover-based children’s party business Trainmaster, the news came at a difficult time for her business. She criticised the government for “a vague evening announcement” that “spreads fear and confusion.”

"My business has only been back up-and-running a few weeks after receiving no Government support when we were forced to close. We operate in covid-secure venues, following the guidelines and ensuring everyone keeps apart but I have no idea if this is enough.

"I'm feeling absolutely heartbroken that I might have to close again after working hard to regain customers and open in a safe way.”

Other Andover businesses and groups, which were also hoping to reopen to larger groups, have had their hopes dashed. Test Valley Models, based in The Chantry Centre, said that plans “to open up the shop for gaming on Friday evenings have once again [had] to be shelved for the forseeable [sic] future”, while Kidslingo French has put their classes online.

Events have also been impacted, as in the village of Thruxton, where a planned village fete, Thruxton Thrives, was planned for Sunday. While it could technically still go ahead, the organisers called off the event because they were worried it would “not set a great example for young people.”

Richard Smart, one of the organisers of the event, was, like Chloe, also critical of the timing of the government’s announcement, describing it as “weird.”

“It’s not the best thing to be doing,” he told the Advertiser. “People are disappointed, but understanding.” The event was meant to raise money for the air ambulance service, and said that it was “a shame” they would miss out.

Instead, Thruxton Thrives has been reinvented as Thruxton Unites, where a small panel of less than six judges will judge submissions in a number of categories, including Covid Cake, Jolliest Jam and Rudest Veg.

Richard said that it was “prudent to downscale” the event, and was “still good to do something in the community.”

“It’s one of those things,” he said, adding: “I hope it doesn’t get any bloody worse!”

As well as restrictions on gatherings over six people, the Government now advises members of the public to follow three key rules:

• HANDS – Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds.

• FACE – Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

• SPACE – Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place.