Can I visit my partner in a local lockdown area? Relationship rules explained
As coronavirus cases accelerate, local lockdowns are becoming more prevalent across the country, with thousands now affected.
Though the nature of restrictions varies between local authority areas, broadly speaking, an area under local lockdown will see restrictions on certain businesses, transport use and the mixing of different households.
In areas without local restrictions, people are still permitted to socialise in groups of up to six. However, in most areas with local restrictions, mixing with people from outside your household is banned.
This has left many wondering what the rules are surrounding visits to or from a partner in an area with local restrictions.
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Does the guidance on 'established relationships' apply to local lockdown areas?
Recently, the government confirmed on its coronavirus FAQs page that those in a so-called "established" relationship do not need to socially distance from one another in the way that people from different households usually should.
Those in the "early stages" of a relationship, the guidance reads, should "take particular care to follow the guidance on social distancing."
It adds that "if you intend to have close contact with someone, you should discuss how you can help to prevent risks of transmission as a couple, for example, by ensuring you are both avoiding close contact with people you do not live with."
However, the FAQ page states at the top that "if you live in an area that is experiencing a local Covid-19 outbreak and where local restrictions have been imposed, different guidance and legislation will apply."
This means that guidance on social distancing from a partner you do not live with is different for those in areas with local restrictions.
Can I include my partner in a 'social bubble'?
Though local restrictions vary from place to place, (you can check restrictions in your local area here), most areas with measures in place forbid social mixing between members of different households.
One of the exceptions to this rule is if the person you are mixing with is part of your support bubble.
A support bubble is a support network between a household with one adult (plus any children of a single parent) and another household of any size.
Within the support bubble, you do not have to socially distance from one another.
What this means is that a partner can be added to your support bubble, but only if yourself or your partner lives by themselves.
If you or your partner live with other people, those people have to agree to be part of the same support bubble - they cannot form a separate support bubble of their own.
Can myself or my partner meet in an area not under local restrictions?
You should check the rules in your local area carefully to find out what restrictions on travel apply to you.
However, if social mixing between different households is forbidden in your local area, it's likely that you won't be allowed to travel elsewhere and mix with another household.
A possible exemption may be if your partner is in your support bubble and you are travelling to see them, but, again, you should check the rules for your local area closely to be sure.