Support bubbles: how to make them work for you

In England, from 13 June if you live by yourself, you can expand your support network so that it includes one other household of any size.

Making a “support bubble” with another household

A ‘support bubble’ means you are now able to meet indoors or out, be less than 2 metres apart and stay overnight as you could if they were members of your own household.

The Government has recognised how difficult this time has been, particularly on lonely and isolated people, and this change is designed to provide extra support to some of those most impacted by the current social restrictions. Once you are in a support bubble, you can think of yourself as in a single household.

Here are the key principles for how you can form a support bubble safely. These are critical to keeping you – and your friends and family – safe and saving lives:

  • support bubbles should be exclusive – you should not change who is in your bubble or have close contact with anyone else you do not live with. This is critical to keeping you, and your family and friends, safe
  • if you or someone in your support bubble is showing coronavirus symptoms, or otherwise self-isolating, everyone in your support bubble should stay home. If you or a member of your support bubble is contacted as part of the test and trace programme, the individual contacted must stay at home. If the individual becomes symptomatic, everyone in the support bubble must then isolate.

 

The following provides more detail on how support bubbles work.

Forming a support bubble with another household means you can meet – indoors or out – and be closer than 2 metres from each other. You can also stay overnight as if you lived with that household. This means you are able to have closer contact with those in your support bubble, which should help provide additional support to those who need it. You should continue to adhere to social distancing guidelines in full with other households.

You must not gather indoors or stay overnight with anyone outside of this bubble and should not change your bubble. If you are in a single adult household, you may also want to consider making a bubble with another smaller household where possible. Everyone in a support bubble should isolate when one member of the bubble becomes symptomatic or tests positive for coronavirus.

Physical contact with members of your support bubble

Support bubbles are a cautious step to help people who may be lonely and therefore at greatest risk of isolation. You do not need to stay more than 2 metres from people in your bubble, but good hand hygiene and other measures can help to keep you and the people you meet safe.

Some people already take extra precautions with those they live with – for example, if one of them is clinically vulnerable, or one of them has a lot of contact outside the house, and you might want to do the same if you expand your bubble.

Support bubbles and isolation

If any member of your support bubble (from 13 June) – either someone in your own household or one that you have formed a bubble with – develops symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus you should follow advice on household isolation.

If you share custody of your child, and you and your child’s other parent are both in separate bubbles, all households would need to isolate if someone becomes symptomatic in the group.

Advice for people who are shielding

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable (shielding), the Government have said that “Unfortunately, we cannot advise anyone who is shielding to form a household bubble at this stage. However, we know how hard it is for people who are shielding and have been keeping this advice under close review. We will be setting out further advice for this specific group next week, now that the peak of the pandemic is past. Those who are shielding are still advised to maintain strict social distancing and stay 2 metres apart from others – including those they live with.”

If you are clinically vulnerable or have a higher risk of catching coronavirus (such as a frontline healthcare worker)

If you are clinically vulnerable, you should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others. You should bear this in mind when deciding to form a support bubble. If you are at a higher risk of exposure to those with coronavirus (for example, if someone in your house is a healthcare or care worker that interacts with patients that have coronavirus), you should take particular care when deciding whether to form a support bubble and who with.

Lone adults with children over 18

If you live with children over the age of 18, you will not be able to form a support bubble. We are making this change to support those who might be feeling lonely or isolated. It is a targeted intervention to provide extra support to some of those most impacted by the current social restrictions.

Read the Government advice.

Read our summary of the lockdown rules, which came into force on 1 June.

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