Advice please – Coronavirus and extended families
6 December 2020 at 11:19 am #46675
Hi, just trying to navigate coronavirus restrictions and extended families. My ex sees our children every other weekend. They have met his new girlfriend on one occasion. He wants to take the children away on 18 December for four nights with his girlfriend and her children. He lives by himself so I am sure he would say her children are in his bubble.
I am in a bubble with my parents. My sister is worried that I am putting my parents at risk because my children will be seeing my ex’s girlfriend’s children then my parents at Christmas. I think my ex is within his rights to get the children and his girlfriend’s family together, even though I don’t like the idea of extending the group of people the children have contact with. Is he within his rights? Thanks for reading!6 December 2020 at 11:57 am #46679
Yes he is within his rights6 December 2020 at 1:16 pm #46690
From a guidance perspective…It depends….
Which country he is in (England/Wales/Scotland/NI) and you… if in England which tier etc….
Navigating all these rules is difficult enough, but rules aside I would be thinking more in terms of safety as the National rules do not provide safety.
For example the rules once allowed people to drink in pubs as long as the magic hour was adhered to….and everyone had to lock down and not visit dying relatives but suddenly for sake of economy it’s ok to “eat out to help out”… it’s ludicrous. The introduction then of a nationwide lockdown while still allowing children to go to school is again laughable. It’s the government’s wanting to have their cake and eat it. You can’t implement infection control measures AND ensure the economy or education doesn’t suffer… they had it right when they were doing distance learning (as much as that was difficult for everyone), but trying to do half measures is ridiculous, and causes more harm than good because you have the damaging effects of isolation but without the benefit of having implemented infection control measures (as the kids of parents who have been trying to be safe are all mixing and transmitting the virus because they are probably asymptomatic).
So this brings us back to your question about “rights”.
Legally… honestly I have no idea because I think the police themselves are struggling to enforce these rules and “reasonable excuse” etc is difficult to implement because the “guidance” make no sense. So probably “morally”or “best efforts for implementation of infection control” is the way to go.
Reading the guidance they say that a single person can form a bubble with another single person, but you can’t switch bubbles once you’ve formed them, and anyone living with someone else over 18 can’t form a bubble so it depends on age of kids etc. It’s my understanding that in addition to having formed a bubble, the parents of any co-parenting family can also see their kids as part of parental responsibility.
The rules at Christmas seem to indicate that a small number of bubbles is able to get together for Christmas, however it is indicated that this is “allowed” as opposed to “recommended” due in an attempt to relieve quarantine fatigue. My own father will be spending Christmas isolating from rest of the family for example because he is in fear of catching the virus due to being both elderly and at least two pre-existing conditions so he is hanging on to the hope of a vaccine and not seeing anyone in person until then. It’s really sad but I can understand his concern so we are going to set up Zoom or Skype or whatever just to try to make everyone is as connected and included as much as possible…. in some ways he has a valid point that it also gives the opportunity to do what we never usually do and do the same with extended family that we don’t usually see in person but may choose to do the same with them… so as he says it’s a case of making the most of a dire situation, and regardless of how ridiculous the testing and tracing has failed….one has to hope and have faith that the vaccine will be successful, and that next year things will be different.
So in your situation my focus would not be how many people the children have contact with…. because at school for example they will already be in contact with so many others……. my concern if I were in your shoes would be to protect anyone in your household that is vulnerable. If your parents are at risk from your children seeing your ex’s family…. they are equally at risk from your children having seen other children at school so that may be something to think about and take appropriate measures.
If the concern was specifically to your kids I would ask the question to clarify whether him and your kids, and his gf and her kids are going away somewhere where they are all going to mix with others…. or if it’s simply him and your kids staying at his gf’s and her kids…. and that they are isolating as a bubble in one of their homes….. bear in mind it’s only a bubble if her and her kids are not mixing with anyone else, I can tell you from experience that staying in a hotel can’t be considered safe as one of the ones I stayed in recently had not been cleaned at all and had to change rooms twice and needless to say declined the offer of a free breakfast as an apology.
To illustrate the stupidity of the situation, remember we have had guidance that even in a bubble or mixing bubbles that people are ok to meet together indoors in a bubble….albeit staying 2 meters apart……but can’t play any board games (which apparently is more risky than using a communal toilet, or touching indoor door handles, or touching any groceries you have bought from the shop without thoroughly sterilizing the outside of each individual container. You could end up OCD the more you think about it but when given stupid advice like the above I think the safest is to assume that regardless of any cautious steps taken to protect from corona, that anyone in a bubble who gets infected will end up infecting all others in that bubble and no measures will be sufficiently effective in preventing this. That is the purpose of a bubble…. to minimise the amount of people infected, not to protect those in the bubble from each other – a bubble is “risk acceptance”, you are accepting the risk that if someone gets it they all get it. So essentially if you are in a bubble with your parents, once you see anyone outside of that bubble then that bubble is no longer a bubble.
Within your bubble – also you have to balance the interventions you take to protect people from each other within the bubble with their own risks that they bring as these can be damaging in themselves.
It’s a balance….. healthcare workers implement control measures like handwashing and masks for specific reasons and use them accordingly. While well intentioned, the government’s guidance is not in order to protect the individual, but as a measure to reduce the number of cases overall in order to reduce burden on the NHS…. so this is what needs to be considered when protecting people, as well as yourself.
– For anyone vulnerable to the extent that they would be at high risk if they got the virus they need to isolate, and any bubble with them will need to isolate themselves to the same extent. There is no other way, and the rule for parents living apart to see their kids is not an exception this when infection control is a consideration even if it is from a legal standpoint… you have to do a risk assessment in each case.
– While regular hand washing is recommended, any clinician will tell you that soap and water is the most effective and that hand gel is secondary when the above is not available…. they will also tell you through experience that during their shifts the excessive use of hand gel wrecks the skin and this is why next to the hand gel dispenser in hospitals you frequently also have a moisturiser as the hand gel dries the skin out and causes sores that are open to further infection from other sources. So as frequently as hand washing is used, you should also use a moisturiser or something to help repair the skin, as well as reducing the amount that hand gel is used to avoid nerve damage especially for kids.
– While face coverings and wearing masks in public is a legal requirement, this in itself poses a hazard due to reduced oxygen, the inhalation of bacteria accumulated on re-used masks, the inhalation of plastic fibres from re-usable masks that have been washed and dried, the list goes on. This is not an excuse not to wear a mask…. but that you need to think about when, how, and why. I see people driving in cars alone, or walking around open spaces wearing masks, and that makes no sense because in a situation where we occasionally need to wear masks, and that we have to spend a lot of time indoors, that we should spend every available opportunity to get fresh air…. so when not in close proximity to others we shouldn’t wear masks, and when indoors (though it’s winter) we ensure that windows are opened as frequently as possible to ensure the air is circulated properly. Where possible masks should be disposable as this reduces the chance of accumulation of bacteria in close proximity to the mouth and inhaled. Another risk from re-usable masks is if they are washed… think of it this way, you wash your clothes and you can smell the washing liquid on them, but you don’t then hold them in front of your face for a long period of time and inhale because you are then inhaling a strong detergent which is going to do no good to your lungs.
– When indoors and using so many chemicals in an attempt to avoid covid infection, you need to balance that with the accumulation of chemical vapours in the home especially when you are spending a lot more time in the home than you normally would, and using more chemicals than you normally would. So in a situation where you have a bubble….. it’s a case of thinking…. is it really going to benefit using hand gel every 2 mins or even at all in that situation any more than you would if you wash your hands after using the bathroom…. or before preparing food and eating etc… or is it simply reasonable to ensure that you avoid touching your mouth and nose…. avoid foods in a bubble environment that means using hands (crisps etc – think about the nuts in a bowl in a bar scenario for example), …. it’s all a case of balancing risks with the effects of intervention to reduce those risks. This includes isolation where that is being implemented due to the mental health effect but also the lack of having someone present to look after the vulnerable in the event of a fall for example.
Sorry for the lengthy reply…. take what is useful…. discard the rest.
Bottom line is…. if it’s a bubble…then you aren’t going to do any further damage by playing board games or anything else because a bubble is a bubble as long as you follow what you would normally before lockdown such as washing hands before eating etc…. with the added element (a consideration for flu and any other airborne illness, or any illness caused by stale air) to ensure that you have proper air circulation indoors and fresh air.
For anyone that would be seriously affected if any member of the bubble got ill they need to isolate separately, or with another individual that is also isolating with them to ensure that infection control is effective.
Hope some of this helps…. they are only my own thoughts. You have to do a risk assessment of your own individual situation rather than thinking of rights or even legal considerations because these are solely focused on reducing overall rate of infection of the population while trying to save the economy… not to protect individuals.
That is something you yourself need to do.
Really hope you manage to have as good a Christmas as possible.6 December 2020 at 1:43 pm #46691
Thanks for your response. They are planning to go away to stay in an Airbnb in the Lake District. We’re all in the South East but different areas – and gf is in London so that might go into Tier 3. The gf’s children will be seeing their father who again could be in a different bubble! I might ask my ex if he can move the trip till after Christmas. Thanks again6 December 2020 at 1:43 pm #46692
Thanks, yes thought so.6 December 2020 at 2:37 pm #46693
They are arguing about the whole tier thing on TV as we speak…..
However current guidance:
“You can still travel within Tier 2 areas to hotels and other guest accommodation. You should only do this with people in your household or support bubble.”
Regarding your own parents if they are vulnerable I would treat this as a separate issue and take the steps necessary to safeguard them if they are vulnerable.6 December 2020 at 3:29 pm #46696
Yes, it’s all up in the air. Parents are older but no health conditions so it’s just deciding what people feel happy to do. Thanks for taking the time to reply.6 December 2020 at 8:52 pm #46708
Sorry it ended up as war and peace…too much time alone thinking I think. lol
Bottom line, regardless of your ex’s plans focus on keeping your parents safe if they are vulnerable.