While we all know that staying largely away from people is still vital in slowing the spread of coronavirus, but after 10 weeks of lockdown, many are beginning to feel the ill-effects of self-isolation.
There’s no doubt that parents – working from home whilst juggling homeschooling – are facing bigger challenges than many during lockdown. And then there’s those of us who simply miss the connection with loved ones – with plenty feeling an effect on their mental health.
But while social distancing must continue in order to keep us as safe as possible, the government have now announced a slow easing of the lockdown measures, centring on the idea of a ‘social bubble’.
What is a social bubble?
The idea is centred around lifting restrictions on only seeing people within our household, by allowing people to curate a ‘social bubble’, or an ‘extended household’.
Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday confirmed that from next Monday (1st June) we would in fact be able to expand our social bubbles and socialise in groups of six, still at a social distance, and would be allowed to meet privately in gardens if possible.
And just last night, social bubbles have been extended even further, to allow single adults from single households to choose another household to form a bubble with. It means that single adults can now socialise with another household inside the home, and without needing to maintain social distancing. Find out more about the lockdown support bubble here.
It follows with measures that some other nations have already adopted.
How have other countries implemented the idea of a ‘social bubble’?
In New Zealand, the idea of a social support bubble was adopted many weeks ago.
And now, given how successful New Zealand’s COVID-19 strategy has been, New Zealanders will very soon be able to attend gatherings of up to 100 people.
These gatherings will now include meetings inside the home, outside the home, and public events as well, such as weddings and church services.
In Guernsey, social bubbles were introduced a few weeks ago, on a wider scale after the “amazing” success of a track and trace scheme. Guernsey’s Director of Public Health, Dr Nicola Brink, told Channel 4’s Fact Check, “The first thing was to have one other bubble – a double bubble. But it has to be a reciprocal arrangement. You can’t have one household bubbling with another household who are trying to bubble with someone else.”
Social bubble UK: Is a social bubble approach being rolled out across the UK?
So far, the newest social bubble measures only apply to England.
The other regions of the UK – Scotland, Ireland and Wales are a step behind England in terms of the latest rule that allows single adults to team up with another household.
In Wales and Scotland, friends and family can meet up with members of other households, but still only outside, and at a social distance.
It is thought that indoor visits will not be permitted in these areas until at least 18th June, which is when the next lockdown review is set to happen.