The health secretary has ruled out scrapping support bubbles, after worries the system could be ended amid a toughening of England’s third coronavirus lockdown.
Support and childcare bubbles, which were introduced in June, mean adults living alone and single parents living with children under the age of 18 can join up with one other household.
The system allows people in a bubble to visit each other indoors, ignore the two-metre social distancing rule and stay overnight.
Support bubbles allow, for instance, elderly people living alone to join up with an adult son or daughter and spend time with grandchildren and share childcare responsibilities.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the government “may have to do more” if ministers feel the rules “are not being properly observed”.
Such comments have led to speculation that support bubbles could be a measure that is looked at again by ministers.
But Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he wanted to be “crystal clear” that the policy would not be scrapped.
“I can rule out removing the bubbles that we have in place – the childcare bubbles [and] the support bubbles are very important and we’re going to keep them,” he told a Downing Street news conference.
“I know how important they are to people and they are an important part of the system that we have got to support people whilst also having these tough measures that are necessary.”
However, Mr Hancock warned people to stick with those they have chosen to form a bubble with.
“The bubbles are there for individual, specific people – so if you have bubbled with somebody, that is the person you have bubbled with,” he said.
“You can’t keep moving bubbles, that’s very important. Somebody in your bubble essentially becomes effectively part of your household.
“It is important that people stick to the same bubble but the bubbles policy will stay.”
Mr Hancock added: “I want to be absolutely crystal clear about that.”
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