Single parents will be among those given further freedom from lockdown by the Government’s latest easing of restrictions.
Boris Johnson announced that from Saturday, single adult households – adults living alone or single parents with children under-18 – will be able to form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household.
Those in a support bubble can act as though they live in the same household. They do not have to stay two metres apart and can be together inside each other’s homes, even staying overnight.
For single parents with young children it means they could partner up with grandparents. This would allow the three generations to spend time together indoors for the first time since March.
It will also reunite those in relationships that have had to stay apart because of the previous, stricter lockdown conditions.
Mr Johnson stressed that support bubbles had to be exclusive; individuals cannot switch the household they are in a bubble with or connect with multiple households.
One exemption to the exclusivity rule is for parents who are separated. They can continue to move children between households, so the children of separated parents could potentially be in two separate support bubbles – one for each parent.
If any member of the support bubble develops coronavirus symptoms, all its members will need to follow the normal advice on household isolation.
The relaxation does not apply to the estimated two million people in England shielding from coronavirus because they are most at risk of infection.
The move is recognition of the huge strain that lockdown restrictions have placed on family life, particularly for the estimated eight million adults who live alone.
There were 2.9 million UK lone parent families in 2019. And the number of people living alone has increased by a fifth over the last 20 years. This has been driven mainly by increases in men aged 45 to 64 living alone.
The relaxation will throw up anomalies. For instance, children who are living with a single parent can meet, stay with and hug a set of grandparents. However, children living with both parents can only do the same with a grandparent who is living alone. But the Prime Minister said the scientific advice was still to restrict large numbers of people coming together.
Mr Johnson said: “There are still too many people, particularly those who live by themselves, who are lonely and struggling with being unable to see friends and family.”
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