Regional Victoria’s ‘household bubble’ explained

Regional Victoria’s ‘household bubble’ explained

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

For regional Victorians, the past week has been a bloody good one, as the state moved to step three of the roadmap, where the limits on reasons for leaving the home are removed thus ending lockdown across regional Victoria.

While pubic gatherings and dine-in have been an exciting experience for the region, the state government have now encouraged socialisation in the homes of Victoria’s with the introduction of the ‘household bubble’.

As of Wednesday 16 September, regional Victorians were given the green light to create a ‘household bubble with one nominated household allowing up to 5 visitors from that household at a time – similar to the single social bubbles announced earlier this month.

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 and give families the ability to visit each other once more.

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

Okay, what the heck is a ‘household bubble’?
The household bubble concept is a way to allow Victorians to start seeing friends or family while balancing the coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission risk.

As of last week, 16 September, anyone in regional Victoria can form a household bubble with another household in regional Victoria.

You can have up to five people from your bubble visit your home. The person or household you form a bubble with needs to stay the same throughout the Third Step.

Who can be in my bubble?
You can form a bubble with anyone in regional Victoria, but you cannot form a bubble with someone who lives in metropolitan Melbourne.

I’ve already formed a single social bubble – can I choose different people to form a household bubble with?
Wherever possible, you should continue with the same person when forming a household bubble. If this is not possible, you can nominate different people to form a household bubble with.

Your new household bubble will replace your current single social bubble and must be maintained for the remainder of the Third Step – meaning you cannot have a single bubble AND a different household bubble.

If the person that you have formed a single bubble with lives with other people, then you can choose to expand your bubble to the members of their household. This means that you can have up to five visitors from the household that you have formed a bubble with.

Does the bubble have to be the same person or household? Can I choose one other person per week/fortnight?
The household you choose to form a bubble with needs to be the same household throughout the Third Step. You can’t just pick and choose who comes to visit based on the week.

Can I choose a household to be my bubble, while they select a different household to be theirs?
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. So, prepare for some fun discussions with that one!

Can you be in household bubble and still see an intimate partner?
Yes, you can have an intimate partner and be in a household bubble. An intimate partner is independent of a household bubble, similar to the way intimate partners have been allowed to visit each other throughout the entire pandemic.

If your intimate partner is at your home with you, they do not count towards the total of the five allowed visitors from your household bubble.

Do we need to wear face masks when in our bubble?
You do not need to wear a face covering while the people in your bubble visit your home or while you visit them at their home. You do need to wear a face covering while you travel to their house or if you are in public with them.

If you have formed a bubble with someone who is at higher risk of becoming very sick with coronavirus you should consider wearing a face covering to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus to them.
Residents in Victoria caught out without a face covering face a $200 fine.

A bubble is cool and all, but how can I keep my bubble safe?
When you form a bubble with a person or household, it is even more important you take extra steps to keep each other safe.

It should go without saying, but only include people in your bubble when you are both safe and healthy. If anyone within your bubble feels unwell, they must immediately isolate at home and get tested. You must not visit that person or have that person over to visit if either of you are unwell.

You should keep at least 1.5 metres distance between you during visits – so no hugs! You should wash your hands regularly and coughing and sneezing into your elbow or a tissue.

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

How many times a day can I leave home to see my bubble? Can I stay overnight?
There are no restrictions on the number of times you can see the people in your bubble. You can stay overnight or have up to five visitors from your bubble stay overnight at your house.

As always though, Victorians need to continue to use common sense and stay safe.

My household bubble has six people. Can they all come and visit me at the same time?
If you live with more than five people, or want to form a bubble with a household that is more than five people, then you can. BUT only five people can visit at one time, in addition to the people who normally live in the household. So one person will have to miss out on the fun.

Babies under 12 months are not included in this cap. Again, you cannot have visitors to your home who aren’t in your bubble.

My relatives or parents are elderly – can I have them as my bubble?
You can form a household with your elderly parents or relatives.

You should 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?
Wherever possible, you should meet up with a friend or family member you are worried about outdoors.

There isn’t a limit on who you can catch up with outdoors, as long as there are no more than ten people gathered. We know that there is a lower risk of spreading coronavirus (COVID-19) between people if you are outdoors which is why restrictions are changing to allow people to see a friend or family member outdoors. There’s heaps of options outdoors too – you can catch up for a picnic, you can go for a walk or hike, or you can opt for heading to a pub.

You can however go to someone’s house if it is an emergency, or for care and compassionate reasons.

Can anyone else visit my home who isn’t in my bubble, like say a tradie?
The following people can visit your home for care or caregiving or work:
-a tradesperson visiting to fix a fault in your home, such as plumbing, wi-fi or electrical
-a person coming in to do child-minding or a child you are providing care to
-a person coming in to provide necessary services or care (for example, cooking or cleaning)
-medical or emergency services staff coming to your home to render assistance.

Anyone visiting your home will need to wear a face covering, unless an exception applies or they are part of your bubble. You should maintain physical distancing by keeping at least 1.5 metres between you and others and practise good hygiene measures by washing your hands and coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow. 

Can I have a birthday party in my home?
Yes. You can have a birthday party in your home with up to five visitors from your household bubble. Alternatively, head to the park or a pub if you want to see people from outside your bubble.

For more information, visit the Department of Heath and Human Services Website.