From grandparents to single people living alone, certain groups have been hit hardest by the distancing measures put in place during the coronavirus lockdown. Up until now, you were only allowed to meet people not from your household in an outside setting and while keeping a two meter distance. However, the government has now announced slight changes to these rules, which will make lockdown easier for certain members of the public. So what is bubbling, and what can you now do in terms of socialising?
What Is Bubbling?
Bubbling, or forming a "support bubble," allows an individual to interact with people from one other household, including close physical contact, during the coronavirus lockdown.
“The notion of social bubbles means that those individuals with whom you interact most frequently are part of your ‘bubble’. These are both the people you are most likely to infect and the people who are easiest to track down when contact tracing," Dr Joshua Moon, a research fellow in sustainability research methods in the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex Business School, told iNews.
Creating bubbles helps to make things easier for those who are struggling with loneliness while keeping the chances of spreading the coronavirus at the minimum. They have been tested out in New Zealand already.
Your current support bubble will consist of people you have been living with during lockdown. If you have been living alone, that bubble will have just been you. However, you are now allowed to extend that to one other household from June 13, 2020.
What Are The New Rules On Bubbling?
On June 10, 2020, during the daily coronavirus briefing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson explained that from Saturday June 13, 2020 at midnight, those living in alone, or as single parents with children under the age of 18, are allowed to form a support bubble with one other household.
Support bubbles must be exclusive, meaning you can only pick one other household. The rules mean you no longer have to keep two meters distance from your chosen person in your new bubble, and that they can even come to your house and stay over. You can also go to their house and stay over.
You are allowed to travel to as far as you need within England to get to your chosen household, but the closer and more local, the better.
If you do not live alone, or are not a single parent and do not have children under the age of 18, the lockdown rules have not changed, and you are still only able to meet others outside of your household outside, keeping two meters apart.
However, if you live in a house-share, you can bubble with one other person who lives alone or who is a single parent with children under 18. This does mean that no one else in your household would be able to bubble with anyone else though. Essentially, your household must decide together which one person to all bubble with, and stick to that one person.
These rules only apply if you live in England, as Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all have separate guidelines, which you will need to be aware of.
What Does Bubbling Mean For Grandparents?
The elderly are some of the most vulnerable in society, and will no doubt have been impacted hugely from a lack of social contact. The new rules allow single grandparents (ie, one grandparent living alone) to bubble with one other household (such as one child's household), but the same goes as with house-shares: members of the child's household cannot choose somebody else to bubble with in addition to the grandparent. Alternatively, they can bubble with one single child or grandchild, who also lives alone like them.
Grandparent couples are only allowed to bubble with a single person household, and cannot bubble with households that contain more than one adult over the age of 18.
What Does Bubbling Mean For Couples & Singles?
Couples who live separately can finally see each other and not have to maintain social distancing. If you both live alone, you can have your partner over to stay, or vice versa. If you live in house-shares, you can still do this as long as no other members of each household bubble with somebody else. Yep, prepare for some tough conversations with your housemates, particularly if more than one of you is in a relationship.
Single people living alone can also have someone to stay, but choose wisely; once you pick one person, you can't then go for another.
Are there any notable exclusions from bubbling?
Aside from those already mentioned (with regards to those not living in single households or single parents with children under 18), the most notable exclusions are anyone who is shielding, anyone taking part in the UK's Track and Trace programme, and anyone experiencing coronavirus symptoms. If anyone in your bubble begins to have symptoms, you must all stay home.