Last night Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that 'support bubbles' were being introduced in England - a further easing of the lockdown restrictions.
He announced that from Saturday, single adults can join up with one other household to create a lockdown ‘support bubble’.
The support bubble differs ever so slightly from a ‘social bubble‘, in that the support bubble is still quite limited – and its main purpose is to tackle some social issues that have arisen from lockdown, rather than simply to allow people to be reunited again.
The move has been introduced by the government in order to try and tackle loneliness, and other issues such as childcare problems, caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Boris Johnson’s announcement follows a range of other lockdown easing measures in the UK – including the upcoming reopening of zoos, the recent reopening of dentist surgeries, and the news that caravan parks are also planning to reopen later this summer, after a long ten weeks of lockdown.
So how exactly does it all work and what is the support bubble?
What is the support bubble and how does it work?
The PM explained that the new support bubble rules apply to adults living alone, in a single household, and single parents, with children under the age of 18.
They will now be able to form a ‘bubble’ with one other household, for emotional and physical support, without having to maintain social distancing rules.
He said, “All those in a support bubble will be able to act as if they live in the same household, meaning they can spend time together inside each others’ homes and do not need to stay two metres apart.”
This means that if you are a single person you will not have to wear a mask whilst at your support bubble household, can visit them indoors, and can stay overnight too. You can also kiss, hug and touch.
However, Boris Johnson explained that if you are a single adult who can benefit from the new rules, you should now treat the other household as your own, too, and stressed that you cannot connect with multiple households.
The PM stated, “I want to stress that support bubbles must be exclusive, meaning you can’t switch the household you are in a bubble with or connect with multiple households. And if any member of the support bubble develops symptoms, all members of the bubble will need to follow the normal advice on household isolation.”
It means that you cannot switch the household with which you form a bubble – if you are a single adult who lives alone, you must pick wisely to ensure that you are happy seeing the same household regularly.
The idea is that by expanding your social bubble ever so slightly and still with restrictions, that it will be easier to track the spread of any new infections, and reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
Who do the new lockdown support bubble apply to?
During the briefing, No. 10 explained to the public who this new easing might apply to.
They revealed that it can include:
- two single people who live alone and want to meet up inside the home – e.g two friends
- a couple who do not normally live together – but only if they normally live alone
- a grandparent normally lives alone can now visit another household – but only one
- single parents (with children under 18) can now form a bubble with another household, which can help with childcare
The new rules however mean that grandparents who don’t live alone (e.g a couple) cannot see grandchildren or other family members, and it also means that single people in shared houses can still not go and see family.
However, the PM did explain that if you live alone, but your partner (boyfriend or girlfriend), has a flatmate, for example, you can form a bubble with that residence. But, the flatmate cannot then form their own bubble with another household.
Couples who already live together can also not form a bubble with another household under the new rules, nor can a family living together join with another family household.
The new rules are following in the footsteps of New Zealand, who introduced a similar support bubble earlier in their fight against the coronavirus.