A SMIRKING First Minister yesterday revealed news that many people across Scotland were waiting to hear.

As part of the country’s move into Phase 2 in the route map out of lockdown, Nicola Sturgeon announced plans for an ‘extended household’. 

She said the Scottish Government was mindful of the “wider harms” that come from the restrictions put in place to tackle the coronavirus – including “loneliness and isolation, particular for older people living alone and lone parents”.

And while the idea of an extended household has wide-ranging benefits, there’s one aspect in particular, called by some as a “sex bubble”, that has people talking.

The new arrangements, permitted from today, means that non-cohabiting couples - where at least one of them lives alone - can be reunited indoors without social distancing for the first time in three months. 

What can I do under an ‘extended household?’

Within an extended household group, people will be able to meet indoors, without physical distancing and stay overnight - though only if they wish. 

But they must continue to see any other households outdoors only, and stay more than 2 metres apart from them.

Who can form one?

Only people who live alone, or who live only with children under 18-years-old, can form an extended household.

The idea is it could allow, for example, a grandparent who lives on their own to form a group with another household in their family. 

It will allow a single parent and their children to join with another household for support.

And, of course, couple who live apart (where at least one lives alone) can be reunited and stay over. 

But, an important detail to note: people who are shielding CANNOT form an extended household.

Can I have more than one extension?

No. A person should not form an extended household with more than one other household. 

Can I leave my ‘bubble’?

Yes, you can. 

Households can agree to end the arrangement at any time – but they should NOT then form a subsequent ‘bubble’ with another household. So perhaps choose wisely. 

What if someone in my ‘extended household’ gets coronavirus?

This is where it gets tricky. 

Put simply, if one member of your extended household gets the virus, the entire group has to isolate.
This is regardless of whether or not they are living in the same property. 

As an addition to that, Ms Sturgeon said: “I would also encourage those who choose to form extended households to pay particular attention to hygiene measures – to reduce the risk that one household will bring the virus into another.”

When will this be extended to other groups of people?

The First Minister did not provide a date on when this could be extended to more people. 

But she added she will “consider if and to what extent we can expand it over the next few weeks”, admitting it will not immediately make a difference to everyone. 

She urged the public to visit the Scottish Government website for more information, adding: “With the best will in the world, we cannot provide precise answers for every bespoke situation. 

“So when in doubt, use your judgement and err on the side of caution.”