A television presenter has taken on a government minister for refusing to rule out banning support bubbles as part of a tightening of coronavirus measures.
Susanna Reid criticised the reports, telling Nadhim Zahim it could have potentially catastrophic effects on people’s mental health.
Appearing on Good Morning Britain, she said: “People are really suffering under lockdown and they’ve been in lockdown or some sort of restrictions for nearly a year.
“Is it true you’re considering tightening up the restrictions even further and what might that look like?”
“We do keep the measures under review. We don’t want to go even further, the measures are tough enough as it is,” responded the minister.
But the presenter continued: “When people see there might be a threat to their bubbles…there is even one suggestion today that we might be restricted how many times we go out not per day, but per week.
“I know you say you don’t want to do these things but I remember you saying that the day before the schools closed. So saying you don’t want to do things is no guaranteed they’re not going to happen.”
She added: “Are you going to restrict people’s support bubbles and are you going to limit how many times they can go out a week?”
Zahawi responded: “I plead to everyone…this virus loves social interaction. We’re all pro-social animals, it’s in our DNA, but every moment we think about socialising or actually do socialise you’re giving the virus the opportunity.”
Reid, unimpressed by the response, explained: “Support bubbles are exactly that, they’re two people getting together and sometimes children as well.
“Can people rely on the fact that support bubbles are not going to be cancelled?.”
Zahawi insisted ministers “want to keep that exemption in place for people to get together,” before talking about supermarkets.
He said: “I’m concerned….we want to make sure people wear face coverings in supermarkets, maintain the one-way system. If it’s at the capacity queue outside.
“Parks are for exercise only not for social interaction. I know it’s hard but please stay at home.”
It prompted Reid to ask again for assurances from the government.
“I’m just going to ask you one last time – can you guarantee that support bubbles will not be banned.”
The minister still would not give a clear answer.
He said: “So the exemption is in place for two people to walk and exercise together.
“We don’t want to get tougher. This new variant is much more infectious.”
Co-presenter Piers Morgan replied: “You can’t make any guarantees like that. The time is long passed, the government needs to stop making promises it can’t potentially keep.
“It’s better to stick to reality.”