Confused about the ‘single social bubble’? Here’s what you need to know

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Confused about the ‘single social bubble’? Here’s what you need to know

There’s been more clarification on how the ‘single bubble’ will work under Victoria’s new roadmap to a COVID normal.

For many Victorian’s, the weekend’s roadmap announcement was long awaited, communicating the way for some sort of uniform passage out of the current pandemic and giving those experiencing ongoing social isolation some reprieve with the introduction of social bubbles.

From 11:59pm 13 September, people living alone and single-parent households throughout both metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria will be able to create a ‘bubble’ with one other person, and they’ll be able to visit each other at home — similar to how partners are allowed to visit each other now.

With the state government finally recognising the importance of physical visits to maintain general wellbeing, as long as they were fixed in nature, the social bubbles aim to help those who may have been struggling with isolation.

There’s a lot to digest though when it comes to these bubbles. Here’s what you need to know:

What does a ‘single social bubble’ mean?
The single social bubble concept is a way to support people who may be feeling isolated while balancing the coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission risk.

From 11:59pm 13 September, if you live alone or are a single parent you can create a ‘single social bubble’ by nominating one other person to be a part of your bubble. This will mirror the existing intimate partner arrangements.

You can have the person you form a bubble with visit your home. Your nominated person can be from a household or share house, and you are also able to visit them in their home, but only when they are alone.

This needs to be the same person throughout the First and Second Steps. A face covering must be worn for all interactions within the ‘single social bubble’.

Who can I choose to be in my ‘single social bubble’?
A single person living alone, or a single parent (with dependent children under 18 years), can nominate whomever they choose to be in their ‘single social bubble’. You cannot nominate an entire household – it must be one person.

If the nominated person has children that cannot be left unattended, and there is no one else to care for them, the children can attend a visit. However, if the nominated person lives with other adults, the single person can only visit the nominated person when they are the only adult in their home.

This would mean if a single person nominates one of their parents, they can only visit the parental home if it’s just the nominated parent at home.

Otherwise, the nominated person will need to visit the single person at home.

How exactly can I keep my bubble safe (and myself)?
If you have a ‘single social bubble’, it’s even more important you take extra steps to keep each other safe.

This means only including people in your ‘single social bubble’ where you are both safe and healthy. If anyone within your bubble feels unwell, they should immediately isolate at home. You should not visit that person or have that person over to visit if either of you are unwell.

A face covering must be worn during visits.

To protect the health of the nominated person in your bubble you need to both agree who you will see when you catch up with friends or family outside.

Both of you need to agree to how many people you will spend time with outside the home. This should include keeping a list of the people you see.

The more people you interact with, the higher the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission. You must not have any other visitors to your home.

My nominated support person has young children – can they come to my house?
Yes, if the person you nominated to form a ‘single social bubble’ with has young children or dependents who can’t be left alone then they can visit your home.

If you have young children or dependents who can’t be left alone then they go with you when you visit the person you form a bubble with.

I am a single parent, caring for someone with a profound disability or illness over the age of 18. Can I still have a bubble?
Yes, you can still form a ‘single social bubble’, but you should consider if this will put the person you are caring for at risk. Professional respite care for people with complex needs is allowed.

I live alone but have a partner – can I form a ‘single social bubble’ with a family member or friend and still see my partner?
No, people must choose whether they wish to see their intimate partner or form a ‘single social bubble’ with another nominated person.

I’m single but live with family or in a share house. Will I still be able to have a bubble outside my household?
You can only nominate a person to be a part of your ‘single social bubble’ if you live alone, or are a single parent. You may however be someone else’s nominated person – even if you live with other people.

If you live with other adults, your nominated person can only visit you in your home if you are the only adult present.

For Metro areas, will the 5km limit apply? Can my ‘single social bubble’ be someone who lives in regional Victoria?
The 5km limit will not apply to forming a ‘single social bubble’ with a nominated person. If you live in metro Melbourne, you cannot form a bubble with someone who lives in regional Victoria. This is to help keep our loved ones in regional Victoria safe.

If I’m in regional Victoria, can my bubble be someone who lives in Melbourne?
No, you cannot form a ‘single social bubble’ with someone who lives in metropolitan Melbourne.

For Metro Melbourne, will the curfew apply to visits between the ‘single social bubble’?
If a curfew is in place, then it will affect visiting your ‘single social bubble’. You can only travel for a visit between the hours of 5am and 9pm. If you are planning to stay overnight, then you must travel before the curfew.

How many times a day can I leave home to see the nominated person in my ‘single social bubble’? Can they stay overnight?
There are no restrictions on the number of times you can see the person in your ‘single social bubble’. However, it is recommended that you minimise the number of times you leave your home for this reason, in keeping with advice to Stay at Home where possible.

Seeing a friend in your bubble does not have a time restriction, but if you are in metro Melbourne and you’re meeting the person in your bubble for exercise or socialising outdoors a 2-hour time restriction applies. You can stay overnight with the friend in your ‘single social bubble’, however you must travel before the curfew in Melbourne. And it is recommended that you minimise the number of times you leave your home for this reason.

Does the bubble have to be the same person, or could you choose one other person per week/fortnight?
The person you choose to form a ‘single social bubble’ with needs to be the same person throughout the First and Second Step towards COVID Normal… so choose wisely!

Will I need a permit to visit my bubble?
You do not need a permit or proof of your ‘single social bubble’.

My friend, relative or parent is elderly – can I have them as my ‘single social bubble’ person?
Yes, but only one adult can be nominated. You also might want to consider the vulnerability of the person in your bubble and limit your interactions with others outside of your bubble when your person is an elderly friend, relative or parent.

If you are more vulnerable to serious complications because of coronavirus (COVID-19), you should carefully consider whether there are other ways you can stay connected – including video calls, phone calls or with social media.

I’m worried about a friend or family members mental health – can I visit them if they aren’t in my bubble?
You cannot visit them. However, you can meet up with a friend or family member outside of your ‘single social bubble’ for exercise or socialising outside. For regional Victoria, there isn’t a limit on who you can catch up with outdoors, as long as you meet public gathering limits.

You should use common sense and limit seeing friends and family. In Melbourne, you can only catch up with one person outdoors at a time, and in regional Victoria you can meet up to 5 people from a maximum of two households outdoors for social interaction (infants under 12 months of age are not included in the cap).

There is a lower risk of spreading coronavirus (COVID-19) between people if you are outdoors which is why restrictions are changing to allow greater flexibility to allow people to see a friend or family member outdoors.

What is a “public outdoor place”? Does this mean I can have people over for a barbeque?
A public outdoor place is a park or garden, outside of the home. You can only have someone over for a barbeque if they are in your ‘single social bubble’. A picnic in the park with physical distancing would also be allowed social interaction.

Do I have to wear a face covering when visiting my bubble?
If you are meeting up outside of the home, you will have to wear a face covering. When visiting someone in your ‘single social bubble’ inside the home you must also wear a face covering, unless you have an exemption that applies.

The premier believes that regional Victoria will be able to move to the third step quite soon, which can start when the daily average number of cases in the last 14 days in Regional Victoria is less than 5 and there are less than 0 cases in Regional Victoria with an unknown source in the last 14 days.

Within the third step, the state government will introduce the ‘household bubble’ which will allow increased interactions with others in the home, while making sure the number of people coming into contact with each other is limited. This aims to balance coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission risk and wellbeing of Victorians.

It enables up to five visitors from a nominated household to visit a home. Children under 12 months are not included in the cap.

The total number of people allowed to meet at home as part of a household bubble arrangement is limited by the number of people who reside at the home plus up to five visitors from the other household that is part of the household bubble.

The bubble requires that you choose the same other household for the duration of the step. The bubble is an exclusive arrangement – you cannot have a household choose you and you choose a different household.

Members of a share house can only choose one other household, noting the five-person visitor limit.

The ‘household bubble’ does not apply to gatherings outside the home.

For more information on the roadmap to reopening, head here. You can also find more information at the Department of Health and Human Services website.