Boris Johnson unveils ‘support bubbles’ to join up two households and tackle lockdown loneliness
Boris Johnson unveiled the new 'social bubble' policy at the Downing Street briefing (Sky News)
Boris Johnson has announced that single adult households will be able to join up with another home to help tackle loneliness created by the coronavirus lockdown.
The Prime Minister said people will be able to create a "support bubble", meaning all of those within it "will be able to act as if they live in the same household", and no longer abide by social distancing.
The move will allow a grandparent to hug their child for the first time in months - or help a single parent to get support from family or friends, who will able to stay over in a second household.
Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing, the PM said: "I know how difficult the past months have been for people cut off from their friends and family.
"Last Monday, we relaxed the rules on meeting outdoors so that groups of up to six could gather provided they are socially distant.
"We did so in the knowledge that transmission of the virus is much lower outdoors. So we could make this change in a safe way.
"But there are too many people still too many people, particularly those who live by themselves who are lonely and struggling with being unable to see friends and family.
"So, from this weekend, we will allow single adult households, adults living alone, or single parents with children under 18, to form a support bubble with one other household."
The move also heralds the end of what was dubbed the coronavirus ‘sex ban’, as individuals can link up with others without the need for social distancing, though they can only be part of one joined-up household.
Any bubbles have to be exclusive, people cannot switch to another or make a connection with multiple of them otherwise it may create “chains of transmission”.
The Government says it accepts this policy will not help everyone - for example a single parent can join up with two grandparents, but a two-parent household could only join up with a single grandparent.
And if two tenants shared a house, then only one of them would be able to form a bubble with their partner or loved one.
But it says there was particular concern around isolation of those living by themselves, and a lack of support for lone parents, which this very targeted intervention is hoped to resolve.
It was also confirmed if any member of a support bubble develops Covid-19 symptoms then all members will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
The new policy is separate to the guidance on groups of no more than six people meeting socially distanced outdoors.
It also does not apply to those who are currently still shielding from the virus, as the Government does not advise them to form a bubble.
And it does not impact the rules which allow parents who are separated to move children between households and share the care, meaning both adults can form support bubbles separate from each other.