At Alert level 4, you can only enter into a support bubble with an adult living alone or a household with a single responsible adult.

People in those categories can form a support bubble with one other household. This will allow you to spend time with the people in that household as if you lived with them.

This support bubble concept has been designed to help people who might be lonely or who might be particularly struggling with the impact of the lockdown.

Who can form a support bubble?

Support bubbles can be formed by a household that meets one of the following criteria:

  • households where one adult lives alone
  • households where one adult lives with any number of children under 18, or
  • households where more than one adult lives, but one adult has caring responsibilities for all of the other adults in the home

For example, if Laura lives with her parents and acts as a carer for them, and also has two young children living with her, she is effectively the sole responsible adult in the household. Her household would therefore be able to join a support bubble with one other household of any kind.

Rules on support bubbles

Because a household can vary in size, there is no limit on the number of people who can be in a support bubble. But only two households can form part of the support bubble, and one of them must be a household with a single person or single responsible adult.

Changing Support Bubble

The key rules on who belongs to a support bubble are that:

  • no person can be part of more than one support bubble, with the exception of people who live in two homes (for example children whose parents have separated and have joint custody)
  • all individuals in one home must belong to the same support bubble
  • all of the adult members of each household must agree to join the same support bubble

We recommend people avoid changing support bubbles unless absolutely necessary, in order to limit the spread of coronavirus between households.

However, we recognise that people’s relationships and circumstances may change over time. If necessary, from Saturday 30 January, single responsible adult households can form a new support bubble provided that:

  • both households end their current support bubbles
  • both households refrain from mixing with any other household (including your new support bubble) for a period of 10 days before forming the new support bubble.

If someone in your previous support bubble develops symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus up to 48 hours after members of the bubble last met, all members of the bubble must self-isolate. You must not form a new bubble until you have completed your self-isolation.

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