The First Minister of Wales announced yesterday that two houses will be able to form one single ‘extended household’ from next week onwards.
The new lockdown easement will see people across Wales being able to meet family members inside for the first time since the end of March.
Even people who are on the government’s shielding list will be allowed to pair up with another household.
But the new lockdown easement comes with many new rules, and opens the door to many new questions.
How many households can you meet with?
At the moment, the members of a house can only pair up with one other household, as a singular group.
Plus, once the extended household is formed, it cannot be swapped or exchanged “for the foreseeable future”, in the words of the First Minister.
This means that members of a house must think long and hard about who they want to pair up with.
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Can I go to my chosen extended household today?
The new lockdown easement doesn’t come into action until this coming Monday (6 July).
This means that you are not allowed to meet up with your extended household yet, unfortunately.
Anyone who is caught travelling to another house risks getting fined.
What happens if someone in the paired house starts showing coronavirus symptoms?
You have to treat anyone in the extended house as if they actually lived with you.
This means that if someone in the other household gets ill, you and everyone you live with has to isolate.
The guidelines say that you have to do this for seven days if you test positive, and fourteen days if you are living with someone (or someone in your extended household) who has tested positive.
The First Minister added yesterday: “It is important for the extended household to keep records to help with tracing.
“We will provide a simple form for anyone to use to keep that record.
I want to pair up with another household that is further than five miles away – can I?
Along with the extended household announcement, Mr Drakeford also stated that the Welsh Government will be dropping the five mile rule from Monday 6 July – the same date that people will be able to form these household bubbles.
He did further state that this was contingent to the rise in coronavirus cases staying steady, and alluded to the food factories in north Wales which have seen a spike in cases as an example that the virus is still able to rapidly spread.
But at the moment it seems very likely that you will indeed be able to create an extended household with a residence further than five miles away from you.
I’m shielding – can I join part of an extended household?
Yes, you certainly can.
That being said, it is worth noting that joining an extended household is not without its risks.
The more people you are in contact with, the more likely you are of contracting the virus.
It is worth keeping this in mind when considering what household you are going to pair up with.
What about people living in a multiple occupancy house?
This was a question posed by a journalist in the daily briefing yesterday, and a very important one. What happens if you live with friends, or don’t really know the people you live with?
When asked about this, the First Minister responded by essentially saying he didn’t know – which is fairly surprising, seeming as there are essentially only two types of households: those living with family, and those living in a multiple occupancy house.
Mr Drakeford did explain that the government would be publishing further guidance this week.
But this will be of little comfort to those who cannot plan ahead for this coming Monday.
What happens if someone moves in/out of your extended household?
The First Minister said in the briefing yesterday that once an extended household is formed, you won’t be able to substitute members.
But the current government advice allows for people to move house if they wish to.
This will likely be more pertinent, again, to those in a multiple occupancy house.
And like the advice for those living in multiple occupancy households, it is fairly unclear at this point what the advice is.
One can only imagine that people will still be able to move freely if they want to, but the best bet is to wait until the government publishes its full advice.