Sunday 14 June 2020

"Linked households" - or "bubbles"

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
From 4 July 2020 the Regulations referred to in this post are replaced by new Regulations - see here. This post has been retained for record purposes.

Regulation 6 of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions)(England) Regulations 2020 (as amended) states:

6.—(1) No person may, without reasonable excuse, stay overnight at any place other than the place where they are living or where their linked household is living.

Regulation 6(1) prohibits persons staying overnight other than at home or in a linked household or if one of the other exceptions in Regulation 6 applies.  (The list in Regulation 6 is non-exhaustive).

Regulation 7 of

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions)(England) Regulations 2020 (as amended) states:

7.—(1) During the emergency period, unless paragraph (2) applies, no person may participate in a gathering which takes place in a public or private place —

(a) outdoors, and consists of more than six persons, or

(b) indoors, and consists of two or more persons.

Paragraph 2 sets out the permitted exceptions to paragraph 1.

(2) This paragraph applies where—

(a) all the persons in the gathering are members of the same household or members of two households which are linked households in relation to each other; ......

The words in blue came into force on 13 June as a result of the latest amending regulations - (previous post).  Regulation 7(1) continues the restriction on gatherings, outdoors and indoors, continues BUT there is a list of exceptions - 7(2)(a) to 7(2)(h). For the purposes of this post I have just quoted the exception in Regulation 7(2)(a).

Linked households:

The concept of "linked households" is defined in a new Regulation 7A.

7A.—(1) Where a household comprises one adult, or one adult and one or more persons who are under the age of 18 on 12th June 2020 (“the first household”), the adult may choose to be linked with one other household (“the second household”), provided that -

(a) the second household is not linked with any other household; and

(b) all the adult members of the second household agree.

(2) There is no limit on the number of adults or children which may be in the second household.

(3) The first and second households are “linked households” in relation to each other.

(4) The first and second households cease to be linked households if neither household satisfies the condition in the opening words of paragraph (1).

(5) Once the first and second households have ceased being linked households, neither the first household nor the second household may be linked with any other household.

Consider some households:

Household A - Elaine, a single mother with a child aged 8.

Household B - James (aged 25) lives alone

Household C - Barbara, an elderly lady living alone

Household D - Couple Harry and Wendy with 3 children: Ben (aged 17), James (15) and Anne (12).

Which of those can be a "first household" for the purposes of this Regulation?

The answer is A, B, C but not D.

D cannot be a first household because there are two adults. A first household may only contain one adult.

Which of those can be a "second household."  

They could all be second households but only if they are not linked with any other household; and all the adult members of the second household agree. Hence, in household D the agreement of both H and W would be required.


Suppose that A and B become linked households. James and Elaine can now stay over at either household A or B. Having formed a linked household they cannot become linked to any other households.

Suppose that Brenda (Household C) is Harry's mother (grandmother to Ben, James and Anne). Households C and D could become linked enabling Brenda to have overnight stays with her son and his family.

The amended Regulations therefore permit overnight stays and gatherings between linked households.

Only two households can be linked. Unless they are from only two households which are linked the law does not permit gatherings outdoors of more than 6 even if they are all from the same extended family.

Whether this could be policed and, if so how, are interesting questions. There is no requirement for formal evidence of linkage between households and so, if a question came to court it would seem that it is a question of fact whether two households are linked.

For an interesting look at "linked households" see Barbara Rich - "The Bennet sisters and their social bubble" - the article is based on the novels of Jane Austen.

As Barbara Rich points out - "The Prime Minister’s daily press briefing on Wednesday 10 June 2020 introduced the concept of the “bubble” for social contact between single people living alone who have been isolated from other households during the coronavirus crisis. The burden of this long period of solitary life, even on young and middle-aged people in good health, should not be underestimated."

No comments:

Post a Comment