Matt Hancock has ruled out cancelling support bubbles during lockdown, after warning people to “act like you have the virus” to slow the transmission rate of Covid-19.
The Government announced a strict lockdown for England until March, after Boris Johnson said the country faced a “tough, tough” few months because of rocketing coronavirus infections due to highly transmissible strain of the virus.
But when asked about support bubbles at a press conference on Jan 11, Mr Hancock said: “I know how important they are to people, and they are an important part of the system we have got to support people.
“The bubbles are there for individual specific people…if there is someone in your bubble, you are essentially part of the same household.”
The Health Secretary also confirmed that people will still be allowed to meet up with one other person to exercise in the park, but stressed that this means only one other person, spaced two meters apart, and groups are “not acceptable.”
However, Mr Hancock said if people continue to break the rules, then they may need to be reviewed, before stressing: “A flex to the rules can be fatal.
“If people push the boundaries of these rules or do not take them seriously, that can lead to more cases and that can lead to more deaths.
“We keep these things under review and we have demonstrated that we’re willing to tighten the rules if they need to be tightened,” he told the press conference.
Fines of £800 will be slapped on people caught at house parties as part of tougher measures to crack down on illegal gatherings during the pandemic.
The penalty, which came into force on Jan 25, will apply for groups of over 15 people and will double after each offence up to a maximum of £6,400 for repeat offenders, the Home Secretary said.
The £10,000 penalties for unlawful groups of more than 30 people will still only apply to the organiser.
The current lockdown rules mean you cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with.
The rules state: “You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’, which is now enforceable by law.
“The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).”
As the latest changes come in, the rules once again change with regards to what people can and cannot do.
Can grandparents look after their grandchildren?
Households are not allowed to mix indoors with the exception of the current support bubbles which allow one other person, such as an elderly relative, to visit.
This means a grandparent that provides childcare while a parent works, will still be able to continue to do so.
Can grandparents hug their grandchildren?
Hugging grandparents is now not permitted under the new rules, which says everyone must ‘stay at home’.
Those who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable have been asked to shield once again.
What are the rules for meeting friends?
You must not meet your friends unless it is for your daily exercise – and this should only be with one other person outside your house.
Alternatively, you’re able to meet a friend if they are part of your support bubble or childcare bubble where legally applicable and absolutely necessary.
The new rules state: “It is against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble. You can only leave your home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting). This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.”
Can I go on holiday with friends?
No. Non-essential travel abroad is not permitted. Some European countries have enforced a travel restriction on flights and trains from Britain entering the country following the discovery of a new coronavirus strain.
Can I stay overnight with family?
You are allowed to stay overnight away from your home if you:
- are unable to return to your main residence
- need accommodation while moving house
- need accommodation to attend a funeral or related commemorative event
- require accommodation for work purposes or to provide voluntary services
- are a child requiring accommodation for school or care
- are homeless, seeking asylum or a vulnerable person seeking refuge
- are an elite athlete or their support staff or parent, if the athlete is under 18
What are the rules surrounding care homes?
Care home visits are permitted providing they are in line with the specific homes’ guidance.