SUPPORT bubbles will remain as a vital tool during the third national lockdown.
A key feature while the coronavirus pandemic rampages through the UK, the PM has confirmed the all-important bubbles are set to stay in place.
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Boris Johnson unveiled a fresh lockdown tonight with an address to the nation – after he warned there was "no question" of tougher measures coming "in due course".
He also announced that those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should "begin shielding again". Those affected will receive a letter about this.
Mr Johnson said: “We now have a new variant of the virus, and it’s been both frustrating and alarming to see the speed with which the new variant is spreading.
“Our scientists have confirmed this new variant is between 50 and 70 per cent more transmissible.
“Our hospitals are under more pressure from Covid, than at any time since the start of the pandemic."
He added: "In England, we must therefore go into a national lockdown, which is tough enough to contain this variant."
The government is instructing people to stay home – you may only leave for reasons permitted by law, such as to shop for essentials, to work if you cannot work from home, to exercise, to seek medical help, or to escape domestic abuse.
Mr Johnson has tonight ordered everyone in England to stay at home until mid-February.
The latest figures showed a further 407 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Monday and there were a record 58,784 more lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.
Parliament will be recalled on Wednesday, meaning there will likely be a vote on the measures.
Downing Street said that the PM's move was in response to the "rapidly escalating" numbers of infections following the emergence of a new variant.
The UK's chief medical bosses agreed to raise the Covid-19 alert level to five – its highest – as they warned that the NHS could be overwhelmed within 21 days "in several areas" without further action.
The move comes as Nicola Sturgeon announced Scotland will go into lockdown for the rest of January, with a legal requirement to stay at home and schools closed to most pupils until February.
The PM's announcement also came as an 82-year-old man on Monday became the first person in the world to receive AstraZeneca and Oxford University's new Covid jab outside a clinical trial.
The vaccination of Brian Pinker – a dialysis patient who describes himself as "Oxford born and bred"- at Oxford University Hospital raises hopes the fight against the resurgent virus will accelerate.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailed the vaccine as a "big British success story, starting today" but said that fighting the virus was "a massive national effort".
But Labour boss Sir Keir Starmer said the bug was now "clearly out of control" and urged Mr Johnson not to delay any decisions regarding further restrictions.
A support bubble is a support network which links two households.
But you have to meet certain eligibility rules to form a support bubble, which means that this is not open to everyone.
You can form a support bubble with another household of any size if you live by yourself – even if carers visit you to provide support.
Any lone parent with kids under 18 is classed as single and is eligible to be in a support bubble.
A single adult living on their own, even if they have carers, can also form a support bubble with another household.
Once you’re in a support bubble, you can think of yourself as being in one ‘household’.
It means you can have close contact with the other household in your bubble as if they were members of your own household.
Support bubbles are estimated to benefit about 8.2million people across the country.
Single parents with kids can form a bubble with another house other than the one that includes your child’s other parent – so they can stay overnight, help with childcare or provide much needed support.
But, you should not form a support bubble with a household that is part of another support bubble.
If you share custody of a child with someone you do not live with, the child can move freely between both parents’ households. You do not need to form a support bubble to do this.
A support bubble is different to a childcare bubble, however.
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