What is the ‘social bubble’? Why countries are mulling over this approach in these times


What is the ‘social bubble’? Why countries are mulling over this approach in these times

To ease the emotional pain of people during the COVID-19 lockdown, some countries are kicking off the Social Bubble strategy. As per this, it allows citizens, stressed due to physical separation from their loved ones, to socialise with a small group of family and friends. Belgium PM Sophie Wilmes recently introduced this strategy so as to allow citizens for whom the physical separation from their near and dear ones has become unbearable.

Social distancing has become the new norm to keep the deadly virus at bay. New Zealand adopted this approach to allow one to have a small group of family and friends to interact with while in lockdown. Here, the initial Social Bubble will mean a person’s household that can be expanded to local friends and close relatives, as the lockdown rules are eased. As per the New Zealand Government’s website, people are supposed to stay at their home bubble, which they can extend to reconnect with caregivers, family, or even to support isolated people. However, it will be the responsibility of the said person to protect his bubble if he wants to extend it. He will need to keep this bubble exclusively, and only include people where it will not only keep him safe, but also the people included in his bubble.

What is the ‘social bubble’? Why countries are mulling over this approach in these times

The United Kingdom might also follow the footsteps of New Zealand, and adopt the’ approach when it comes to meeting family and friends again.

As regarding Belgium, the new rules state that each bubble can be expanded to two sets of four members each, and each set, which has been capped at four, must also belong to the same household. The said two sets of people can visit each other’s houses, whereas they will not be allowed to visit any other groups of people. Also, the families are expected to refrain from physical contact, like kissing or hugging, with the other family, and make sure to maintain a distance of 1.5 m during such interactions.

What is a Social Bubble?

As per Dr, Joshua Moon, researcher at the University of Sussex Business School, these bubbles are based on the idea that people have certain close family and friends, with whom they frequently interact. These people are also both likely to infect you and those who are easiest to track down when it comes to contact tracing. In fact, the basic principle of a social bubble is that you have contact with people outside your home, but you need to keep the number of people in your bubble restricted. Reason why many countries are thinking of adopting this approach after lengthy lockdowns, is to maintain a fine balance between reintroducing social interaction and also maintaining a low rate of transmission at the same time.

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