'Support bubbles': Who can now meet up indoors?

People living alone in England are now be allowed to meet with one other household - in an attempt to make lockdown less lonely and more bearable.

The idea behind the "support bubbles" is aimed at some people who've been cut off from friends and family since lockdown came into force on March 23.

What is a support bubble and how does it work?

Single adult households are able join with one other household to form a "support bubble" and act as if they all live together.

This means they will not have to observe social-distancing rules as the two-metre rule will be bypassed for those within a "bubble" and overnight stays will be permitted.

People in each bubble can visit each other's homes and go inside. Credit: AP

What are the support bubble rules?

Once a single adult household has formed a bubble, it must remain exclusive, meaning people will not be allowed to swap which household they meet with.

People in each bubble can visit each other's homes and go inside.

Adults living alone or single parents living with children under the age of 18 are covered by the new arrangements.

For example, a single grandparent could pair up with one of their children's households.

Another example includes an adult living alone could mix with their parents, or two single friends living apart could get together.

Anyone in the bubble contacted as part of England's test and trace programme must stay at home. If they develop coronavirus symptoms, everyone in the bubble must self-isolate.

Can households form more than one bubble?

No, the arrangement must be exclusive with no switching of bubble partners.

What about households where both grandparents are still living - can they now visit their children and grandchildren?

At this stage only if their son or daughter is the only adult in the other household in the bubble.

Downing Street has acknowledged not everyone will benefit from the change although officials have hinted a further loosening of the rules if the coronavirus outbreak continues to decline.

The new rules could bring some good news for some people hoping to visit their grandchildren. Credit: PA

What about vulnerable people who are shielding?

At the moment, officials say it is too soon for them to be able to join support bubbles.

Is there any limit on the distance between households in a bubble?

No, although officials are suggesting people should try to "stay local" where possible.

However you can't bubble with anyone in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, as this new "social bubble" only applies in England.

What happens if someone in a bubble gets sick/develops coronavirus symptoms?

The person with symptoms must stay indoors for seven days, while all others will need to quarantine for 14 days.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know