Not sticking to the rules on Covid-19 support bubbles risks undermining the fight against the virus, says Bolton Council’s Director of Public Health.
Dr Helen Lowey is urging people to keep social contact with people outside their own household to an absolute minimum, as health services in Bolton come under mounting pressure and case numbers rise across the borough.
Dr Lowey is concerned that people need to make sure they know the rules on support bubbles, and stick to them tightly.
Under the rules, not everyone can form a support bubble with another household. A support bubble is a support network which links two households. You have to meet certain eligibility rules to form a support bubble. This means not everyone will be able to form a support bubble.
Dr Lowey said: “We know that many people are following the rules, but are concerned that some are not. At the present time the virus is spreading quickly in Bolton, and we are seeing a worrying increases in the number of people needing hospital care. It is crucial that we all stay at home and keep all our contacts with others to a minimum. Any unnecessary contact with someone brings a chance of spreading the virus.
“It’s important to remember that not everyone can form a support bubble. If you live on your own, for example, you can form a support bubble, or if you are a single parent with a child under 18. But two families can’t just decide to bubble up or two households who are friends. And you can’t just decide that a group of friends is your “support bubble” and meet up with them.”
If an individual or household is eligible they can form one support bubble with one household of any size – but it must only be with one household. And you should not change support bubbles once you’ve chosen who is in it.
Dr Lowey added: “The fact that the new variant of Covid-19 is much more infectious, means the virus is now spreading more easily in our community. This is putting lives at risk and placing huge pressure on the NHS in Bolton.
“In winter we all spend much more time indoors and this is where the virus is able to spread from person to person much more easily. The way to stop this is simply to not mix indoors with anyone you don’t live with.
“And in places where you do come into contact with other people inside – for example shops or on public transport – wear a face covering, keep at least two metres apart from others and wash or sanitise your hands regularly.”
“Please take time to properly understand the rules on support bubbles and stick to them. This will be just one of the ways we can hopefully get on top of the virus again in the coming weeks. This is a dangerous moment and we face huge challenges during the rest of the winter. Please do your bit to help us beat Covid-19 in Bolton.”
In addition to support bubbles, parents with children under the age of 14 can form a childcare bubble to get childcare support from one other household. Childcare bubbles can only be used to provide childcare – not to meet socially.
Detailed information on the rules on childcare bubbles are also available at gov.uk