Bubbles and Shopping

The guidance on keeping safe and alert against the deadly virus, COVID-19, has been cautiously relaxed this week with non-essential retail shops allowed to open, and single person households allowed to form a “bubble” with another household.

For those, like me, having to commute to work, there are new rules requiring passengers to wear a face covering when a journey on public transport is necessary. Exemptions for the use of face coverings will apply to those with certain health conditions, disabled people and children under the age of 11.

If you do need to travel, in the same way that you would pick up your phone, wallet or keys when you leave the house, please remember to bring a face covering.

The “non-essential retail” shops on Brentwood, Ongar, Shenfield and Ingatestone High Streets have been allowed to reopen this week amid huge amounts of work to ensure they meet the Covid Secure guidelines to keep workers and customers safe. I know many of our independent shops have done amazing work in offering an online shopping experience, or a delivery service for local people.

There’s no doubt High Street shopping is going to be a different experience for some time, with strict socially distanced queuing in place. However, I have no doubt the entrepreneurial spirit will prevail and our shops and businesses will make this different shopping experience fun and fulfilling for all.

For those who still need to shield or self-isolate, it has been a lonely time and the Government has recognised how difficult it has been for people to be cut off from family and friends.

This week, single adult households – in other words adults who live alone or with dependent children only – have been allowed to form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household. All those in a support bubble will be able to spend time together inside each others’ homes, including overnight, without needing to stay 2 metres apart.

For the rest of use, the advice to Stay Alert and keep two metres from those who’re not within our household still applies, but I hope the support bubbles will make life far happier for those who need the joy of social interaction with family or a friend after weeks of being alone.

The Government is constantly reviewing its guidance so do visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus or my website for the latest updates.