PM announces ‘support bubble’ scheme for single-adult households - but how will it work?

PUBLISHED: 17:46 10 June 2020 | UPDATED: 10:24 11 June 2020

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). Photo: PA Video/PA Wire

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). Photo: PA Video/PA Wire

Single adult households will be able to form “support bubble” with one other from this weekend, the prime minister has today announced.

In the daily Downing Street briefing, Boris Johnson announced the new provision, which will allow couples living apart to reunite and some grandparents to see their grandchildren without the need for social distancing - provided they live alone.

The PM described the move as “a targeted intervention to limit the most harmful effects of the current social restrictions”.

It will mean that those living alone will be able to treat one other household as if it is their own, being allowed to stay over night and interact with other members without observing the two-metre rule.

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This means couples living in separate addresses will once again be permitted to stay overnight and single-parent families will be able to reunite with one set of grandparents.

However, while the announcement will come as a boost to those living alone and not shielding, the government says it is too soon for those who are shielding or vulnerable to form a bubble.

Mr Johnson said: “We are making this change to support those who are particularly lonely as a result of lockdown measures.

“It’s a targeted intervention to limit the most harmful effects of the current social restrictions. It is emphatically not designed for people who don’t qualify to start meeting inside other people’s homes, because that remains against the law.”

But how will the new system work, and what are its limitations?

• Who is covered by the new arrangements?

Adults living alone or single parents living with children under the age of 18.

• What will they be able to do that they could not before?

They can form a bubble with one other household which means they will effectively be treated as a single household for the purpose of the lockdown rules.

That means they can visit each other indoors in their homes - staying overnight if they wish - and they will not have to observe the two-metre social-distancing rule.

• Who might benefit?

Elderly people living alone could form a bubble with the household of an adult son or daughter enabling them to visit and even hug their grandchildren for the first time since lockdown.

Single parents could pair up with their own parents allowing them to share childcare duties and reuniting grandparents and grandchildren.

Couples who do not live together will be able to visit and to stay with each other.

• What about households where both grandparents are still living - can they now visit their children and grandchildren?

At this stage only if their son or daughter is the only adult in the other household in the bubble.

Downing Street has acknowledged not everyone will benefit from the change although officials have hinted a further loosening of the rules if the coronavirus outbreak continues to decline.

• Can households form more than one bubble?

No. The arrangement must be exclusive with no switching of bubble partners.

• Will people have to formally register these bubble arrangements?

No, it will be taken on trust. No 10 says the public has shown “great responsibility” in following the social distancing rules so far.

• Is there any limit on the distance between households in a bubble?

Again no, although officials are suggesting people should try to “stay local” where possible.

• What about vulnerable people who are shielding due to their age or health problems?

At the moment, officials say it is too soon for them to be able to join support bubbles.

• What about parents who are separated but who currently share childcare with the children moving between the two households?

That will continue. If the parents are the only adult in the household they can form a bubble with another household - meaning the children could potentially be in two bubbles, one for each parent.

• What happens if someone in a bubble develops coronavirus symptoms?

All members of both households in the bubble must self-isolate for 14 days.

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