Covid: Families with babies can form support bubbles in Wales

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image captionParents with a child under the age of one are able to mix with another household from Saturday

Families with babies can now hug and stay with their loved ones after a slight relaxation of coronavirus restrictions in Wales.

Wales remains under a strict 'stay at home' lockdown, with most people unable to travel or see relatives and friends.

However, now families with a child under one-year-old are able to form a "bubble" with one other household.

It means some grandparents will be able to hug their grandchildren for the first time in months from Saturday.

It is the latest slight easing of Wales' lockdown rules with up to four people now allowed to exercise together - with social distancing in place - and the youngest primary school pupils returning to the classroom.

Until now, only those living alone, or a single parent, had been able to form a so-called "bubble" with one other household, allowing them to meet indoors.

Now the rules have been eased slightly to allow families with young children to form a bubble, allowing them to travel to see loved ones anywhere inside or outside of Wales, for the first time since Christmas.

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Under the rules, households with one or more children under the age of one can form a support bubble with one other household for any purpose.

With those in support bubbles not needing to social distance, it means families and friends with young children will be able to hug, stay in each others homes overnight and exercise outside together.

However, the Welsh Government is urging people to "take special care around people who are at increased risk from the virus" and around people who are "extremely vulnerable", including the elderly and those with medical conditions.

While the bubble can be anywhere in Wales, or across the UK, people will face tough decisions, as the bubble must only be with one other household and must be exclusive, so it cannot be swapped and changed.

The Welsh Government is urging people to "think carefully" before forming a bubble which would require extensive travel or travelling to an area outside of Wales with a high case rate.

'Help baby's development'

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the change was to help "ensure new parents can receive support from friends or family during the crucial first year of a baby's life".

"This will also help the baby's development," he said.

Under the changes teenagers - aged 16 and 17 - living alone or with other children in a household with no adults are also able to form a support bubble.

If someone in a support bubble develops symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus, all members of the bubble must self-isolate.

image captionFor the first time since September, Covid rates in all Welsh counties are below 100 cases per 100,000 people

Case rates continue to fall in many parts of Wales, with the seven-day case rate now standing at 72 for every 100,000 people - the lowest infection rate since September.

However as the sunny weather looks set to continue people have been warned not to let their guard down and continue to stick to Covid rules, which means no one should be travelling apart from essential reasons.

'Important for support'

media captionBethan Sayed said the 24/7 culture of her job made it "impossible" to raise her new family

Plaid Cymru welcomed the news families could form support bubbles but called for more support for perinatal mental health.

"Becoming a new parent during such a period of isolation can be over-whelming, and support from other new parents can be central to well-being," said Bethan Sayed MS.

"As a new parent, I cannot overstate the importance of having this option of support and contact.

"After a year of campaigning, my only disappointment is that it has taken such a long time to provide this lifeline."

There will be a further relaxation of Covid lockdown rules on Monday as weddings or civil partnership ceremonies will be able to be held at 'approved premises' like hotels and castles.

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