This is the moment young children across the UK have waited almost three months for as they were reunited with relatives after the government allowed the creation of coronavirus ‘support bubbles’ between two households.
Five-year-old Heidi, from Worthing, shared an emotional hug with her grandmother on Saturday as dad Gareth Snow watched on, while James Deighton also captured a touching reunion as his mother embraced her two grandchildren – captioning the exchange as ‘Nana cuddles.’
The latest easing of lockdown policies that were first introduced in March were ‘a targeted intervention to limit the most harmful effects of the current social restrictions’, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Families have been kept apart for almost three months since lockdown was formally introduced on March 23, with over 70s told to stay indoors and those labeled as ‘clinically vulnerable’ due to pre-existing conditions ordered to shield.
Gareth Snow captured the moment his five-year-old daughter Heidi saw her grandmother
Emily (right) and Daisy run to see their grandma in Ashtead, Surrey, for the first time since the lockdown restrictions eased
The family have been forced to live separately since lockdown measures were introduced in March
Susan reunited with her grandchildren, Emily (left), Benjamin (second left) and Daisy (right) on Saturday morning
Gareth, from Worthing, told MailOnline: ‘It was very special. Heidi has been desperate to hug and see her nana again. It’s been a long three months!
‘One of the days to remember during lockdown. My little girl getting to hug her nana for the first time in 3 months.’
The new rules have seen thousands of children reunited with grandparents while those hit hardest by isolation have been able to seek out much-needed support, with couples now able to stay overnight at each others’ homes, if one currently lives alone.
It comes as…
- Experts express fears over how COVID could spread at Black Lives Matter protests
- Pubs and restaurants can ignore two-metre rule but should ban singing and shouting
- Britons have been encouraged to get out and shop for Britain to boost economy
- One in five hospital covid patients caught the killer bug on a ward
- Lockdown is reportedly putting teenagers at risk of mental health problems later in life
- summer camps for school children will be established to help them catch up on schoolwork
Emily, Benjamin and Daisy, from Ashtead in Surrey, were also captured as they embraced their grandparents for the first time since the lockdown was eased.
They had been forced to stay away from their grandparents due to the strict lockdown measures introduced in March.
Thousands of young children have seen family members again as restrictions are eased
HOW ‘SUPPORT BUBBLES’ WILL WORK
Who is covered by the new arrangements?
Adults living alone or single parents with children under the age of 18.
What about vulnerable people who are shielding ?
Officials say it is too soon for them to be able to join support bubbles.
I’m a grandparent and I live with my spouse, can I see my grandchildren?
Sadly no. The support bubble must contain one person who lives alone.
What about parents who are separated but who currently share childcare between households?
That will continue. If parents are the only adult in the household they can form a bubble with another household.
What happens if someone in a bubble develops coronavirus symptoms?
All members of both households in the bubble must self-isolate for 14 days.
Can households form more than one bubble?
No. Arrangements must be exclusive with no switching of bubble partners.
Will people have to formally register these bubble arrangements?
No, it will be taken on trust.
The new measures do not apply to multiple-adult households or to vulnerable people who are shielding.
There will also be further steps taken on Monday, with non-essential shops also allowed to open their doors once again.
On Twitter, another user took a light-hearted view of what the new ‘support bubble’ rules may bring.
They said: ‘I can open my #supportbubble today. Never felt vulnerable until I had a bubble dedicated to me. My parents won the bubble lottery, it’s Saturday so looking forward to getting my pocket money later, a bag of quavers and Just Seventeen. Can see this bursting!!’
This move comes alongside government efforts to fast-track the reopening of outdoor hospitality within weeks.
Boris Johnson was warned that 3.5million jobs could be lost this summer if the sector remains locked down.
The PM has come under intense pressure from MPs and business leaders to urgently relax the two-metre rule – or drop it entirely.
Office for National Statistics figures showed that Britain’s national output plummeted by a record 20.4 per cent in April as millions of people were told to stay at home.
At the same time, it emerged that the number of average new infections per day has fallen from 5,600 to 4,500 since the end of April.
The drop in infections has been seen as a positive, while the R rate, used as a key piece of guidance by the government, continues to hover between 0.8 and 1 in London.
The principle of the R rate dictates that, if it remains below 1 then the number of infections will fall, while if it climbs above 1 they will increase again.
The rules introduced on Saturday mark another easing of strict social distancing measure
Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined how those living alone could now form ‘support bubble’
Who is ‘vulnerable’ and who should be ‘shielding’?
When Britain entered lockdown in march, the entire population were ordered to stay inside except for exercise, essential travel and buying food or medicine.
However, those at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from coronavirus were instructed to ‘shield’, minimising contact with others as much as possible. This included people with serious pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma.
There is then a second group of those who are ‘clinically vulnerable’, which includes everyone over 70. This group was not told to ‘shield’ but was still advised to take precautions.
But the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’, including those with severe health conditions, were contacted by the NHS and advised to ‘shield’.
On the new measures, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘There are still too many, people particularly those who live by themselves, who are lonely who are struggling with being unable to see friends and family.
‘So, from this weekend, we will allow single, adult households – adults living alone or parents with children under 18 – to form a support bubble with one other household.
‘All those in a support bubble will be able to act as if they live in the same household meaning they can spend time together inside each others homes and do not need to stay two metres apart.
I must stress that support bubbles must be exclusive meaning you can’t switch the household you are in a bubble with or connect with multiple households.
‘If any member of the bubble develops symptoms, all members of the bubble must follow normal advice on household isolation.
‘We are making this change to support those who are particularly lonely as a result of lockdown measures.
‘It is a targeted intervention to limit the most harmful effects of the current social restrictions.
‘It is emphatically not designed for people who do not qualify to start meeting inside other people’s homes because that remains against the law.
‘Unfortunately we cannot advise anyone who is shielding to form a support bubble a this stage given their particular vulnerability to the virus.
‘I know how hard it is for those of you who are shielding and we will say more next week about the arrangements that will be in place for you beyond the end of June.’
There was some pushback on social media following the announcement, with some questioning how the new guidance excluded large numbers of people.
One said: ‘So as a single Mum I can now go and visit 1 family BUT only if they’re also a single person?! So I sTILL can’t visit my parents but everyone can go and s**g others as long as they are single person in a household! Boris.. really?!’
Have you formed a support bubble? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story.