Public health expert clarifies Boris Johnson’s incorrect advice during briefing

17 July 2020, 18:00

By Fiona Jones

Public health expert clarified the incorrect advice on support bubbles Boris Johnson gave during today's coronavirus briefing.

Speaking in a Number 10 briefing today, the Prime Minister announced that from August 1, people should return to work "if it is safe" and "provided employers have done the work they should have done to make their work places Covid-secure".

He said it was not for the Government to tell employers if staff should return to their workplaces.

A member of the public with children asked whether her own parents, who were the main childcare providers, would be able to do so now she is being urged back to work.

The Prime Minister answered: "I think your children's grandparents would count as the bubble that you're forming with two households indoors. I think you'd be OK with those childcare arrangements in your household."

Professor of Public Health Linda Bauld clarified for England that this was incorrect - whereas for Scotland this would be okay.

The professor told Eddie Mair what the PM said applies only to Scotland
The professor told Eddie Mair what the PM said applies only to Scotland. Picture: PA/LBC

She explained that in England if a single person lives on their own "that person can expand their support network to include one other household of any size, so that would be the child and their grandchildren. That is a support bubble and that means they can maintain close contact and they don't have to physically distance.

"That means that if it's two grandparents living in the same household, they're not eligible to form a support bubble with no physical distancing.

"The guidance that applies to them is they can get together with their family in another household...but they need to socially distance from most people that they don't live with because it's not a support bubble if it's two grandparents together."

In Scotland from 10 July that measure was changed and for children up to the age of 11 do not need to be physically distant from two households if they are being cared for in their own home or interacting with people in their own home.

"The Prime Minister's response was not correct as things currently stand in England," Professor Linda Bauld said.

She asked what people will do if they are being urged back to work yet cannot access the vital childcare resource of grandparents.