QUARANTINE BUBBLES PROTOCOL – SOCIAL BUBBLES – SOCIAL PODS
How do we do the social bubble distancing? We’re bored to tears isolating. We love each other and our kids but spending every hour of every day together is too much for too long. We’ve done the Zoomtini with grownup friends and FaceTime a lot with family, but we’ve had enough of screens.
How can we spend time safely with friends and extended family? It seems forced and awkward trying to put together a bubble with one or two other families. Our kids’ closest friends have always been other kids they’ve been spending time with commuting in the school bus, playing soccer, lacrosse or pick up basketball. Their friendships, for the most part, didn’t include parents, except for the parents we mainly saw at home games.
How do we initiate the suggestion to other families and how do we know who to invite? What happens if it doesn’t work out? Or if they reject our invitation to start a bubble? How can we be sure they follow as rigidly the same social distancing and hygiene rules? How do we safely have a healthy social life again? People say they are being super careful, but are they really?
–Jennie, Brookline, MA
Hi Jennie, thanks for your questions about Quarantine Bubbles Protocol, social bubbles and social pods.
The risk of gathering together during the pandemic will change as time goes by. Warm summer weather is here just in time to allow for quarantine bubbles and social pods.
A double bubble is where two households meet outdoors and agree to adhere to social distancing guidelines in order to increase social contact. Having a picnic in a public place or taking turns for pizza in your backyard are a start. A household picks one other group to socialize with until lockdowns are further relaxed.
The bad news: Close and numerous social interactions with friends may need to be limited until a vaccine is available to all, modeling shows, to eliminated a second peaking of COVID-19. Recent studies in the UK found that under optimistic assumptions, contacts may have to be limited to 5-10 a day outside the home, and if 10% of previous contacts were resumed we would be at risk of a second peak of the virus outbreak.
The good news: The prospect of being in a bubble can give your family something to look forward to. Try forming a quarantine bubble consisting of a group of people or families whose members have been safely isolating; people who can eventually begin hanging out with other extremely cautious groups, as long as everyone obeys safety guidelines and agrees to be exclusive. At least that’s what many European countries are doing as they begin to ease their lockdowns.
- For instance, in Belgium, “Two sets of four people make a ‘corona bubble’ who can visit each other’s homes. No one else is allowed into the domestic social circle.” Eventually that first bubbles enlarges as trust and caution become the normal.
The trick is to go in light heartedly but with facts, “Hey, do you and your family want to join us in our quarantine bubble?” Then you go into detail about the guidelines your family has been following, including mention of how many times a week you go to the grocery store or/and gym and explain the routines you follow. If they’re interested, they’ll respond by telling you their routines about ordering groceries online and doing curbside pickups. Then suggest a picnic in a public space to see how everyone behaves.
If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work and there will be other people interested in being part of a bubble, with the objective of eventually enlarging the bubble. Make it clear that if it doesn’t click, the friendships will peter out and it will be obvious that it’s time to find other people.
Keep in mind:
- Social bubbles allow some social contact, while continuing to limit the risk of further Covid-19 transmissions.
- The goal is to get to level 3 where your household bubble can include people such as close family members, care-givers or someone who needs care.
- Beware that if the number of deaths does not continue to drop or the average number of people infected for every Covid-19 case increases, people will then not be allowed to use the bubble scheme.
- Two sets of four people make a “corona bubble,” who can visit each others houses but there are no hugs or other physical exchange like kissing.
- In Northern Island now six people from different households can meet outdoors as long as social distancing is practiced.
- Your social bubble is the people you live with. With extreme caution you can manage adding to your bubble.
- Anyone experiencing coronavirus symptoms, or who is at a higher risk, should not be in a bubble, and needs to self-isolate.
As part of your first discussion:
- When do you go out? For what reason?
- Do you where a mask?
- Do you keep 6 feet away from others?
- When are you communicating with family?
- What happens if someone in the bubble has symptoms of Covid-19?
- What questions do you ask others?
- What is the process for entering a bubble?
- How would we set up protocol and etiquette?
- What would be the protocol and etiquette?
Three things every member of the bubble must keep in mind:
- There is the possibility of extending the bubble.
- The bubble doesn’t have to be forever.
- The bubble gives everyone something to look forward to.
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