Scotland support bubbles: extended household rules and childcare explained as country enters new Covid lockdown

You can still form an extended household during the new national lockdown

Mainland Scotland has been placed under the tightest Covid lockdown restrictions.

The First Minister announced the move to a fresh national lockdown on Monday 4 January, 2021, amid fears over the spread of the new strain of Covid, which is thought to be up to 70 percent more transmissible.

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Despite the “stay at home” rules being enforced by law, people will still be able to form support bubbles - also known as extended households - in Scotland, just as has been an option throughout the pandemic.

People who live alone are able to form extended households during restrictions (Shutterstock)

Here’s everything you need to know about forming an extended household in Scotland.

What is a support bubble?

The support bubble, or extended household, rule still applies under lockdown restrictions.

It allows people who live under certain circumstances to be considered as part of another household, with social distancing not required.

The rule is intended to reduce loneliness and isolation during all levels of restrictions.

Those who have formed an extended household can meet indoors and outdoors, have overnight stays and visit public places together - just as a normal household would.

According to the Scottish Government advice, even if your extended household lives in a different area, you are still able to see them.

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How can I form an extended household?

There are two circumstances in which someone is able to form an extended household in Scotland.

That includes people who live alone, and couples who do not live together.

If you are an adult who lives alone or with children under 18, you are able to form an extended household with one other household of any size.

Any children who live with you will also be considered as part of the extended household.

For example, someone who lives alone could link up with their parents while still living in separate households.

If you are in a relationship with someone, and you do not live together, you are also able to form an extended household, which includes any children you live with.

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Once an extended household has been formed, you are not able to form one with another household.

The arrangement can be ended whenever you want, but you cannot form another extended household for at least 14 days after that.

What about childcare?

If you’re part of an extended household in Scotland, then any adult in that extended household can look after your children, even if you don’t live with them.

Informal childcare can also continue in lockdown, but only for essential reasons, including if you're a key worker and require informal childcare to go to work or if you're working from home and you need informal childcare so you can to continue to work, and no alternative can be found.

Your child should move between households, rather than your friend, family member, babysitter, or nanny coming to your house to look after your child.

More information about childcare during the lockdown can be found on the website.