Can you have a support bubble at levels 2 and 3? How Covid Levels Restrictions Affect Social Gatherings
New measures aimed at curbing the coronavirus have now entered into force.
Boris Johnson announced on Monday that regions across England will be assessed on a three tier system of ‘traffic lights’: ‘medium’, ‘high’ or ‘very high’.
Different areas were classified according to their infection rates, with the regions with the highest rates facing the most severe measures.
The new system aims to simplify what has been, to date, a fragmented system of locks that even the Prime Minister found confusing.
But how do the new restrictions affect socialization and support bubbles? Here’s all you need to know.
What is a support bubble?
A support bubble is a tight support network between a household with a single adult in the home (known as a household with one adult) and another household of any size.
Once you are in a supportive bubble, you can think of yourself as being in one household with people from the other household.
People in a supportive bubble can have close contact when visiting each other, staying overnight, and visiting public places together.
Once you make a bubble of support, you shouldn’t change who is in your bubble.
Government guidelines advise people to follow social distancing guidelines with people outside your home or the support bubble, adding that this is “essential” to keep you, your family and friends safe.
He adds that supportive bubbles should be formed with households that live locally, to the extent possible, to avoid potential transmission of the virus between different areas.
What is a child care bubble?
A childcare bubble is when a person in one household provides informal (unpaid and unregistered) child care to a child aged 13 or under in another household.
This can include people in your support bubble and registered child care providers, such as nannies, and people in your child care bubble.
Government guidelines state that every child care bubble should always be between the same two households.
Friends or family who don’t live with you and are not part of a support or child care bubble should not come to your home to help with child care, according to official guidelines.
Registered day care centers, education, childminders, extracurricular clubs and supervised activities planned for children are exempt from legal assembly limits.
What does this mean for level two regions?
In level two areas, social mixing between households is prohibited indoors, but supportive bubbles may continue to mix in private homes and indoor places such as pubs and restaurants. Childcare bubbles can also continue.
However, the rule of six means that people can still gather in groups of up to six people outdoors, for example in private gardens and public places.
What does this mean for level three regions?
In level three zones, social mixing between households is prohibited indoors and outdoors in any setting, such as private homes, pubs, restaurants or private gardens, but bubbles of support and childcare bubbles are allowed to continue.
The rule of six will only apply in certain outdoor environments, such as parks, beaches, housing estates, public gardens and playgrounds.
Pubs and bars in high risk areas can only remain open if they function as a restaurant serving “substantial” meals, such as a main course for lunch or dinner. Alcohol can only be served as part of such a meal.
The government has also advised people not to enter and leave high-risk areas and those residing in level 3 regions to stay put.
What are the areas of levels 2 and 3?
After adding Manchester (from Friday 23 October) and South Yorkshire (from Saturday 24 October) to the Tier Three category, the full list of zones under each ranking looks like this:
Level 1: Local Covid alert level: Medium
- All areas except those listed below
Level 2: Local Covid alert level: high
- North East Derbyshire
- Castle Point
- Epping Forest
- The 32 boroughs and the city of London
- Cheshire West and Chester
- East Cheshire
High Peak – the districts of:
- St. John’s
- Old Glossop
- Howard town
- Hadfield South
- Hadfield North
Tyne and Wear
- South Tyneside
- North Tyneside
Valley of Tees
- Redcar and Cleveland
- Oadby and Wigston
- Newark and Sherwood
- Nottingham city
Level 3: Local Covid alert level: very high
Liverpool City Area
- St Helens
- Blackburn with Darwen
- Ribble Valley
- South ribble
- West Lancashire
What did the Prime Minister say about the bubbles of support?
Boris Johnson first introduced the concept of support bubbles in June in a bid to tackle the loneliness of people living alone during the lockdown.
“I want to stress that support bubbles have to be exclusive, which means you cannot change the household you are in a bubble with or connect with multiple households,” he said.
“And if a member of the support bubble develops symptoms, all members of the bubble should follow the usual advice on household isolation.”