The government has announced that people who live alone will now be allowed to form a coronavirus ‘support bubble’ by going to stay overnight at one other household – and social distancing will not have to be followed.
The update to the coronavirus lockdown regulations means that from Saturday June 13th adults living alone in England, including single parents with children under 18, will be able to form a “support bubble” with one other household, with the aim of easing the challenges of social isolation during the coronavirus lockdown.
The new rules suggest that members of a ‘support bubble’ can stay overnight at each other’s home, with no need to stick to the two-metre social distancing rule, though it will not include people who are shielding, and guidelines for the clinically vulnerable remain in place.
The changes were announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the regular daily coronavirus briefing. He said: “There are still too many people, particularly those who live by themselves, who are lonely and struggling.”
Government officials argue that the ‘support bubbles’ will allow widowed grandparents to visit family members, or have their grandchildren to stay, and single parents to get help with childcare. But the changes would not allow a couple to visit both parents as neither household would comprise a single adult.
The briefing also stressed that anyone not qualifying should still continue to follow social distancing measures and should only meet outdoors.
The news comes as the government announced that non-essential shops, zoos and drive-in cinemas in England could re-open from Monday 15th June, so long as they follow proper social distancing. Also from Monday 15th, passengers on public transport are required to wear a face covering, as are hospital visitors and outpatients.
Plans to fully reopen primary schools have been put on hold, and many pupils are now not expected to return until September.
Meanwhile a two-week quarantine period for anyone arriving in the UK will be enforced from Monday June 15th.
While more than 200 travel companies have signed a petition asking for the new rules to be scrapped, Home Secretary Priti Patel says the move would protect public health, now that imported coronavirus cases ”pose a more significant threat”.
The new quarantine rules state that passengers arriving in the UK by plane, ferry or train, including UK nationals, must provide an address where they will self-isolate for 14 days. Travellers can be fined £100 for failing to complete a form with these details, and a fine of up to £1,000 can be applied for anyone failing to follow the rules.
Where possible travellers should drive themselves to their destination rather than using public transport, and should not use public transport or taxis while they are self-isolating. They should also not go to work, school or public areas, or have visitors unless they require essential support. They should also not shop for food if someone can deliver it to them.
International travel is being unadvised and employers are being told that they must agree future isolated working arrangements with staff before they travel internationally.
However, there are exceptions to the travel restrictions – anyone arriving from the Common Travel Area (CTA) including the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man does not have to enter quarantine, only if they have been in the CTA for at least 14 days.
The government is also looking into the possibility of ”international travel corridors” between the UK and countries with low infection rates and strong healthcare systems such as Portugal.
There are also exempt groups of workers, including:
- Road haulage and freight workers
- Medical and care professionals providing essential healthcare
- Those arriving for pre-arranged medical treatment
- Passengers in transit , if they do not pass through border control
- Seasonal agricultural workers if they self-isolate where they are working
- UK residents who ordinarily travel overseas at least once a week for work
The measures will be reviewed in late June, three weeks after their introduction, to check they remain ”effective and necessary”.
Countries including Greece, Canada, the UAE, Australia and New Zealand have introduced screening measures such as temperature checks, and entry restrictions. In Spain, only UK citizens with permanent resident status can enter. From 1 July, Spain will allow some travellers in without quarantining, but this doesn’t include the UK.
Industry body Airlines UK said that quarantine “would effectively kill off air travel”, and the British Ports Association, which represents ferry companies, has called the measures “overzealous”.
Look here for details of travel restrictions and here for the latest details on the government’s announcement that people who live alone will now be allowed to form a coronavirus ‘support bubble’ by going to stay overnight at one other household – and social distancing will not have to be followed.