Can you have a support bubble at levels 2 and 3? How Covid Restrictions Affect Social Gatherings


New measures to curb the coronavirus have now entered into force.Boris Johnson announced on Monday that regions across England would be assessed on a three tier system of ‘traffic lights’ of ‘medium’, ‘high’ or ‘very high’.

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Different areas were categorized according to their infection rates, with the regions with the highest rates facing the most severe measures.

The new system aims to simplify what has been, to date, a fragmented local lockdown system that even the prime minister has found confusing.

But how do the new restrictions affect socialization and support bubbles? Here is all you need to know.

What is a support bubble?

Neighbors Joan Frost (right) and Audrey Weston chat on the streets in Liverpool in May (Photo: Getty)

A support bubble is a tight support network between a household with a single adult in the home (known as a household with one adult) and another household of any size.

Once you are in a supportive bubble, you can think of yourself as being in one household with people from the other household.

People in a supportive bubble can have close contact when visiting each other, staying overnight, and visiting public places together.

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Once you make a support bubble, you shouldn’t change who is in your bubble.

The government guidelines advise people to follow social distancing guidelines with people outside your home or the support bubble, adding that this is “essential” to keep you, your family and friends safe.

He adds that supportive bubbles should be formed with households that live locally, if possible, to avoid potential transmission of the virus between different areas.

What is a child care bubble?

A childcare bubble is a person in a household who provides informal (unpaid and unregistered) childcare to a child aged 13 or under in another household.

This can include people in your support bubble and registered child care providers, such as nannies, and people in your child care bubble.

Government guidelines state that every child care bubble should always be between the same two households.

Friends or family who don’t live with you and are not part of a support or child care bubble should not come to your home to help with child care, according to official guidelines.

Registered daycare centers, education, childminders, after-school clubs and supervised activities planned for children are exempt from legal assembly limits.

What does this mean for level two regions?

A sign encouraging people to wear face masks in Edinburgh (Photo: Getty)

In level two areas, social mixing between households is prohibited indoors, but supportive bubbles may continue to mix in private homes and indoor places such as pubs and restaurants. Child care bubbles can also continue.

However, the rule of six means that people can still gather in groups of up to six people outdoors, for example in private gardens and public places.

Which regions are at level two?

On Thursday 15th October it was announced that London, Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow-in-Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Erewash and Chesterfield would all upgrade to level two, having been in the lower level one alert category .

Starting Saturday, October 17, these locations will join the initial list of level two zones:


  • Cheshire West et Chester
  • East Cheshire

Grand Manchester

  • Manchester
  • Bolt
  • Bury
  • Stockport
  • Tameside
  • Trafford
  • Wigan
  • Salford
  • Rochdale
  • Oldham



High Peak – the districts of:

  • Tintwistle
  • Padfield
  • Dinting
  • St. John’s
  • Old Glossop
  • Whitfield
  • Simmondley
  • Gamesley
  • Howard Town
  • Hadfield Sud
  • Hadfield Nord


  • Blackpool
  • Blackburn avec Darwen
  • Burnley
  • Chorley
  • Fill
  • Hyndburn
  • Lancaster
  • Pendle
  • Preston
  • Ribble Valley
  • Rossendale
  • South Ribble
  • West Lancashire
  • Wyre

West Yorkshire

  • Leeds
  • Bradford
  • Kirklees
  • Calderdale
  • Wakefield

Yorkshire du Sud

  • Barnsley
  • Rotherham
  • Doncaster
  • Sheffield


  • Newcastle
  • South Tyneside
  • North Tyneside
  • Gateshead
  • Sunderland
  • Durham
  • Northumberland

Tees Valley

  • Middlesbrough
  • Redcar et Cleveland
  • Stockton-on-Tees
  • Darlington
  • Hartlepool

West Midlands

  • Birmingham
  • Sandwell
  • Solihull
  • Wolverhampton
  • Walsall


  • Leicester
  • Oadby et Wigston


  • Nottinghamshire
  • Nottingham City

What does this mean for level three regions?

In level three zones, social mixing between households is prohibited indoors and outdoors in any setting, such as private homes, pubs, restaurants or private gardens, but bubbles of support and childcare bubbles are allowed to continue.

The rule of six will only apply in certain outdoor environments, such as parks, beaches, housing estates, public gardens, and playgrounds.

Pubs and bars in high risk areas can only remain open if they function as a restaurant serving “substantial” meals, such as a main course for lunch or dinner. Alcohol may only be served as part of such a meal.

The government has also advised people not to travel in and out of high risk areas and those residing in level 3 regions to stay put.

Initially, the only area to which the level three restrictions applied was the Liverpool City area.

However, on Friday October 16 it was confirmed that Lancashire County would also be subject to the strictest rules.

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What did the Prime Minister say about the bubbles of support?

Boris Johnson first introduced the concept of support bubbles in June in a bid to tackle loneliness among those living alone during the lockdown.

“I want to stress that support bubbles have to be exclusive, which means you can’t change the household you’re in a bubble with or connect with multiple households,” he said.

“And if a member of the support bubble develops symptoms, all bubble members will need to follow the usual advice on household isolation.


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