Home Coronavirus: News and Advice Support bubbles not social bubbles – know the difference

Support bubbles not social bubbles – know the difference

by Cathy Sheel

Support bubbles are an essential lifeline for many people in single person / parent households, those who need additional support or are experiencing loneliness during the pandemic. As we enter another national lockdown, the additional support provided through ‘bubbles’ has never been more important for some people.

However, it is important to remember under what circumstances these arrangements are allowed, and when people can – and cannot – form a bubble.

Cllr Sean Donnelly, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said: “When two households mix there is an increase in the risk of coronavirus spreading and that’s why support bubbles should only be formed when they are genuinely required.

Now that a national lockdown is in place, we have to make sure that any casual social mixing stops. The virus is spread easily from person to person so limiting contact with others is crucial, particularly as our rates are continuing to rise. I know this is hard, especially after people have relaxed over the festive period but this really is crucially important.”

Increasingly there is evidence to suggest that people are forming ‘support bubbles’ – despite not being eligible and are using them to mix households and meet socially. By doing this, people are increasing the chances of the virus spreading between households and indeed of the virus spreading even further across the borough.

Currently in Knowsley the rates of COVID-19 have reached a new peak at 796.8 per 100,000 population.

To bring down these rates all residents are urged to follow the rules, stay home and reduce their contact with other people.

Cllr Donnelly added: “We know that we need to strictly observe the rules of lockdown but we also know that in some circumstances it is important that exceptions are made to support people who need assistance or may be experiencing loneliness or other health difficulties. That is where bubbling up can play a vital role.

“Support bubbles are a very important tool for those who need them, but I urge people who are not eligible to not increase risks by mixing households or creating social bubbles.”

What is a support bubble?

A support bubble is a support network which links two households. Once a support bubble is created, the two households can think of themselves as being ‘one household’. This means you can have close contact and do not need to social distance with people in your support bubble.

Where possible support bubbles should be between two local households.

Who can form a support bubble?

One half of a support bubble must be eligible to form a bubble. The other household can be of any size.

You are eligible to form a support bubble if:

  • you live by yourself – even if carers visit you to provide support
  • you are the only adult in your household who does not need continuous care as a result of a disability
  • your household includes a child who is under the age of one or was under that age on 2 December 2020
  • your household includes a child with a disability who requires continuous care and is under the age of 5, or was under that age on 2 December 2020
  • you are aged 16 or 17 living with others of the same age and without any adults
  • you are a single adult living with one or more children who are under the age of 18 or were under that age on 12 June 2020

You cannot form a support bubble with a household that is part of another bubble.

Can I change my support bubble?

Ideally you should avoid changing your support bubble as this will help prevent the spread of the virus between households.

However, if necessary, you can form a new support bubble as long as you ensure the following:

  • your household, or the one you are forming a bubble with, meets the eligibility rules outlined above
  • the other household is not already part of a support bubble which they intend to remain a part of

If you decide to change your support bubble, you should treat your previous bubble as a separate household and wait for 10 days before forming a new bubble.