Adults who live alone and lone parents and their children can now “team-up” with one other household when they feel they need support.
The Council of Ministers agreed the change yesterday following the announcement that the current COVID-19 measures will stay in place until at least 6 April.
For the majority of households there will be no change to the rules that prevent household members visiting other households, apart from under exceptional circumstances. Vulnerable people were already able to have additional support and this has now been extended to explicitly include those living alone, or lone parent families.
Chief Minister, Howard Quayle MHK, said:
'We are aware of the impact that lockdown has on everyone in our community, but especially those who live alone or who have to care for children on their own. We hope the ability for two households to ‘team-up’ in these very specific circumstances will help those who need support, whether that is practical or emotional.
'I must make clear that the rules around these new measures are very specific and are set out in law. This move does not signal a free-for-all. I would ask members of our community who may be eligible to team-up with another household to think carefully about the benefits and the risks before they do so. Risks to themselves, to each other and to the wider community.
'People who are vulnerable – those who are unable to cope alone because of ill health or disability – were already able to receive support from another person for care or the delivery of essentials. And essential workers who do not have an option to leave their children at home, could already take their children to another household as long as there are not children from a third household there.
'Today we have simply widened the criteria so that lone parents or people living alone who may be struggling with the current lockdown can ‘team-up’ to get emotional or practical support from a friend or family.
'In simple terms that means the person on their own, or the lone parent, can visit one other household, or members of that other household can in turn visit them. The arrangement must be reciprocal so that if there are other members in the other household they cannot team-up with a third household.
'The overall message is to stay at home and to avoid household mixing wherever possible. We hope these changes will help those who may be struggling. We recognise this does meet every need for everyone in our community. We will continue to review the whole position regularly.'
You can view more information on our dedicated Teaming up with another household page.