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Coronavirus support bubbles and childcare bubbles

Adults who live by themselves and single parents with children under 18 living at home in England can join up with one other household to create a support bubble. 

People providing informal childcare to a child 13 or younger can carry on doing so and form a childcare bubble.

What exactly is a support bubble?

Forming this support bubble means you effectively become one household  – you can act as if you all lived together. This means you can do things such as go round to their house, stay the night and travel together in private vehicles. You don't need to socially distance from others in your support bubble.

Who can I form a support bubble with?

For two households to form a support bubble, at least one of the households must have:

  • only one adult (this includes households with one adult and any children are under the age of 18)
  • only one adult carer – this means households where this is one adult carer and anyone else living within the household has a disability and requires continuous care
  • a child under one (regardless of how many other adults are in the household), or
  • a child under 5 with a disability that requires continuous care (regardless of how many other adults are in the household).

There are some things to consider before you decide to form a support bubble:

  • You can travel to and from another household in your support bubble, but it's still best to avoid public transport. It might therefore be easier to be in a support bubble with a household local to you.
  • The more people you spend time with, the higher the risk of infection from coronavirus. So while there are no rules on the size of the household you can join up with, it's safer to make a support bubble with a smaller group of people.
  • Before you form your support bubble, think about any potential risks to your health. For example, is there anyone in certain households that's more exposed to the virus, such as healthcare workers?

I'm over 70, can I form a support bubble?

If you are over the age of 70 then you are still able to form a support bubble.  

However, we know that people over the age of 70 are at greater risk from coronavirus so you may want to take extra care. You might want to avoid forming a bubble with a household that is more exposed to coronavirus, for example if there are people in the home who are healthcare workers. 

Everyone in your support bubble should take extra care when meeting up with people outside of the bubble. This includes maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres and following proper hygiene measures, including washing your hands frequently with warm water and soap.

What if someone in my support bubble develops coronavirus?

If anyone in your support bubble develops symptoms of coronavirus or tests positive for coronavirus then everyone in the bubble will need to self-isolate. 

For more information on when, and for how long, you need to self-isolate see our information on test and trace 

Can I change my support bubble?

You should avoid changing your support bubble, however sometimes circumstances change so if necessary, you’re able to change your support bubble. However, one of the households must meet one of the criteria listed above and neither household can be part of another support bubble.

If you do decide to change your support bubble, it’s recommended that you have a break of 10 days between leaving one support bubble and joining another to reduce the mixing of different households. This means treating your previous and new support bubble as separate households for those 10 days.

What is a childcare bubble?

If you provide childcare to a child or children aged 13 years old or under, you can keep doing so by forming a childcare bubble. By forming a bubble, the child can then spend time in your house. You don't need to be a single adult household to do this, but you can only form a childcare bubble with one other household.

A childcare bubble isn't the same as a support bubble. It's purely for childcare purposes and doesn't mean you can mix socially with another household. 

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Last updated: Jan 12 2021

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