New COVID-19 measures for families from 4th July
The Prime Minster Boris Johnson announced a raft of new COVID-19 measures from 4 July that include people being allowed to meet indoors with one other household at a time and stay overnight. This means that family units will now have more freedom to meet inside or outside and this could give millions the opportunity to see loved ones and friends in a more relaxed way.
However it is important to note that social distancing rules will still apply. These measures are not the same as the household support bubble where distancing is not required, meaning family members who live apart can still not hug or touch each other even if they are now meeting indoors. Mr Johnson was also keen to stress that meet-ups do not always have to be with the same household – but that only one household can meet one other at any time. This means that for instance, a couple with their child could meet one set of grandparents on one day and go inside their house, and then meet the other set of grandparents on another day and go inside their house. However, they cannot combine the three households into one meeting.
Mr Johnson says “we cannot lift all the restrictions at once” and added: “The fewer social contacts you have the safer you will be.” In announcing these new measures the Government is relying on the common sense and resilience of the public to maintain social distancing in order to avoid a second peak of the virus. However, it is difficult to see how such measures will be policed if at all.
These new rules do not change the situation separated parents have faced since the start of lockdown. It has been made clear that children from separated parents have and continue to be allowed to travel between each parent’s household and social distancing measures do not need to apply when the child is in a particular household. However, such contact is permitted where both parents agree that the safety and health of the child or children is not at risk.
Support bubbles also continue to exist separately to the new COVID-19 measures announced today. A support bubble can be formed between an adult who lives alone and one other household so the single adult can be allowed to socially interact and stay over with the chosen household without social distancing measures being adhered to. This support bubble can also be formed by a single parent with minor children and one other household. Once a household is chosen the single adult/single parent cannot change their mind and mix with another household.
Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Suffolk.