Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a daily news conference to update on Covid-19, at 10 Downing Street in London, on April 30, 2020.
(Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street/Handout via REUTERS)
People living alone in England will be able to stay at one other household as part of a further easing of coronavirus restrictions, UK prime minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday.
He announced that, from Saturday, single adults can spend the night at another house in a so-called “support bubble”, which means all members of the bubble must self isolate in case any one member develops symptoms of COVID-19.
He said the change aims to help combat loneliness and allow for some further relaxation to the rules, which so far only allow for a gathering of up to six outdoors.
“All those in a support bubble will be able to act as if they live in the same household, meaning they can spend time together inside each others” homes and do not need to stay two metres apart,” Johnson explained.
“I want to stress that support bubbles must be exclusive, meaning you can’t switch the household you are in a bubble with or connect with multiple households. And if any member of the support bubble develops symptoms, all members of the bubble will need to follow the normal advice on household isolation,” he said.
One part of the bubble has to be a single household, or be a single parent to children aged under 18. It does not apply to grandparents who live together, people living in houses of multiple occupancy, such as flat shares, or to couples who already live together.
Those who are “shielding” due to other underlying health conditions, are not advised to form a bubble.
The move came as the UK government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said the R number – the number of people an infected person passes the virus on to – remains below the required level of one.
“The epidemic is shrinking, but not fast. Numbers are coming down but are not yet very low,” he said.
Further easing of lockdown measures, including opening up of non-essential shops, from next Monday as the UK’s death toll from the deadly virus crossed 41,000.