SUPPORT bubbles WON'T be scrapped, Matt Hancock said this evening, as fears grew they could be ditched to toughen up lockdown rules.
The Health Secretary stressed the bubbles "very important" to make sure people are not left isolate during the lockdown.
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Support bubbles allow people who live alone, or who are a single parent or caregiver to children under the age of 18, to join up with one more household.
They are also available for new parents who have a child under the age of one, so that grandparents or friends can help with the kids.
It means the bubble is treated as one household – and they can stay overnight and meet up indoors.
Fears grew today that the crucial bubbles could be sacrificed to stop the tide of new coronavirus infections, but Mr Hancock ruled it out.
He said: "I can rule out removing the bubbles we have in place, the child care bubbles support bubbles are very important. W're going to keep them.
"I know how important they are to people, they are an important part of the system, whilst also having these tough measures that are necessary."
Mr Hancock stressed that the bubbles give people who live alone the only opportunity to socialise – but he stressed no one should be breaking the rules, and joining up with more than one household.
"The bubbles are there for individual, specific people, so for instance, if you have bubbled with somebody, that is the person you have bubbled with.
"You can't keep moving bubbles – that is very important. If somebody becomes part of the bubble, they essential become a part of your household."
But the Health Secretary warned that while ministers would keep the bubbles in place, there could be a ban on exercising with friends if people continued to break the rules.
"You can go and exercise in the park with one other person – but only one other person," he said.
"This is one of those rules where if too many people keep breaking it, we are going to have to look at it."
He stressed he "did not want to have to do that".
Mr Hancock's comments Boris Johnson insistence earlier today that there could be a fresh clampdown on lockdown rules – but the Government wanted to avoid it if possible.
The PM said today: "We are going to keep the rules under constant review. Where we have to tighten them, we will.
“But we have rules in place which, if properly followed, we believe can make a huge, huge difference."
He urged everyone to stay at home as much as possible to protect the NHS and save lives – and he urged everyone to consider their actions as it was such a "perilous time" for the nation.
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