An exemption in the Tier 2 lockdown rules means someone living on their own – or with children – can still see their best friend in their home.
In Tier 2 areas, also known as “high” alert areas, household mixing is banned indoors.
However, an exemption in the high alert legislation, which from Saturday will apply to millions more people, allows “linked households”.
The law states: “Where a household comprises one adult, or one adult and one or more persons who were under the age of 18 on 12 June, 2020 (‘the first household’), the adult may choose to be linked with one other household (‘the second household’).”
It means people living on their own or with their children can choose a friend or family to mix with indoors.
This is also known as a “support bubble”, and is the same exemption as when the national lockdown was first lifted in the summer.
It comes after Thursday’s announcement that London will be added to the list of areas under Tier 2 limits at 12.01am on Saturday.
Watch: London set to move to Tier 2 of lockdown restrictions
In the House of Commons, health secretary Matt Hancock subsequently confirmed Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow in Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield and Erewash would also be added to the list on Saturday.
Other areas where Tier 2 restrictions already applied included Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Derbyshire, Lancashire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Tees Valley, West Midlands, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.
When not taking exemptions into account, the basic Tier 2 restrictions ban households mixing indoors, including at hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants.
Social gatherings of up to six people, also known as the “rule of six”, are still allowed anywhere outdoors, while the national 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants also applies.
The tiered system was announced by Boris Johnson on Monday and came into effect on Wednesday.
Tier 1 is the least severe, with the current national rules applying: meaning household mixing is allowed indoors. Tier 3 is the harshest, with household mixing banned indoors and outdoors, except for in public spaces. Pubs must also close in Tier 3 areas unless they can offer meals.
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