Support bubbles: Will Boris ban support bubbles? Fears for childcare and grandparents

Nadhim Zahawi urges everyone to ‘be sensible’ during lockdown

Stricter lockdown restrictions could be on the way as health experts and scientists have urged the Government to tighten the measures. England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty issued a stark warning on Sunday that the NHS is facing “the most dangerous situation” in living memory as it struggles to cope with the added demand brought on by Covid-19. Professor Whitty urged Brits to adhere to the rules and stay at home, warning that if the spread of the virus continues as it is, “there will be avoidable deaths”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock refused to rule out a stricter lockdown, telling BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show he did not wish to “speculate”, but emphasised the Government’s message to “stay at home and follow the rules that we’ve got”.

In a separate interview, Mr Hancock backed more stringent enforcement of lockdown rules by the police force, warning “every flexibility” of the rules could prove fatal.

Mr Hancock said: “You might look at the rules and think, ‘Well, it doesn’t matter too much if I just do this or do that’.

“But these rules are not there as boundaries to be pushed, they are the limit to what people should be doing.”

We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.

Former director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and member of Independent Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies), Anthony Costello, said only a “total clampdown” similar to those seen in some Asian countries would be able to slow the spread.

Mr Costello said the UK is in a “national crisis” and is dealing with a pandemic that has spun far out of control.

He said: “We should have no nurseries open, no synagogues, no churches, no mosques. We should have compulsory marks, two-metre distancing.

“We have to take this really serious – that’s what Asian states did. The longer we allow it to go on transmitting, the quicker we are going to get a resistant virus to a vaccine, then we are in real doo-doo.”

Will Boris ban support bubbles?

While nothing has yet been confirmed by the Government, speculation suggests the Prime Minister’s next move could be to tighten lockdown restrictions, which could include a ban on support bubbles.

Good Morning Britain’s Susanna Reid put the question of a support bubble ban to Vaccines Minister Nadim Zahawi, asking him: “Are you going to restrict people’s support bubbles and are you going to limit how many times they can go out a week?”

Mr Zahawi responded saying: “So the exemption is in place for two people to walk and exercise together.

“We don’t want to get tougher. This new variant is much more infectious.”

But Mr Hancock had a different story to tell, instead refusing to confirm the Government’s plans, saying: “I don’t want to speculate because the most important message is not whether the Government will further strengthen the rules.”

Matt Hancock to address nation in major news conference [REPORT]
Coronavirus UK: Expert blast Boris for ‘no clear lockdown strategy’  [INSIGHT]
Supermarket queues set to return as retailers told to limit customers [ANALYSIS]

Support bubbles mean people who live alone can join another household and stay overnight in their home, effectively joining the household.

Guidance suggests people who have a support bubble should choose a household close to their homes in an effort to limit travel time.

In addition to support bubbles, childcare bubbles enable families to join with another, such as grandparents or parents, for the purpose of providing informal childcare.

These could also be gone soon as the Government looks to strengthen the existing lockdown.

Following the exchange on GMB this morning, dozens of people took to social media in reaction to the prospect of losing a support bubble.

One Twitter user praised Susanna for “pushing the vaccination minister on GMB for an answer on support bubbles”.

She added: “They are fundamental for people’s mental health, particularly parents with very young children, life & death in many cases…I hope they remain unaffected.”

Another posted: “The support bubbles are what is keeping some people going.

“My mum is alone after losing my dad – without her support bubble of myself, my husband & 2 children she would be alone. Why punish her & thousands like her??”

A third said the bubbles were vital for the mental wellbeing of many people, posting: “We are in a flat with a 1yr old and partner trying to salvage a business that has been ruined by covid… He needs space to work and I need it for my mental health….as does my mum who is alone. It terrifies me as much as Covid!”

One person said: “If these tougher restrictions of no support bubble and leaving your house once a week are true, there will be more suicide deaths than covid!!!! You have to consider people’s mental health. Honestly the entire thing is making me angry and upset.”

Another added: “No support bubbles? So punish those on their own or with young children, good call there Face with rolling eyes I’m bad enough with all the shitty restrictions, no support bubble will add extra stress. Me and my children shouldn’t have to be locked in our house unable to see people.”

But scientists have long been sceptical about the use of support bubbles, especially during a critical time such as this when the infection rate is at an all time high.

In May 2020, Sage advised against the introduction of bubbles for fear of them spreading the virus faster.

The bubbles were eventually introduced anyway by the Government in a bid to try and reduce the negative effect on people’s mental health felt through the lockdown, but calls for them to be scrapped continue.

Ending the arrangement would make the lockdown more similar to the original measures implemented in March last year.

For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or visit a local Samaritans branch.

Source: Read Full Article