Drastically limiting people’s contact with others seems to be helping the countries stem the spread of the Coronavirus. But as economies slump, curve flattens, and people become fatigued with restrictions, governments around the world are now facing the challenge of how to ease their citizens out of lockdown without risking a second wave of infections, and there is no definitive rule book they can follow.
New Zealand has found out a way to strike a balance between the social distancing norms and defeating the loneliness. They are practising social bubble. It means that you can choose some favourite people of your choice and give those names to authorities. Authorities will then allow you to visit those specific people. You can go to each other houses and defeat the boredom and become the real social animal as described in books. The authorities will set a bar on how much names a family can give. The names you will select will become your social bubble.
On the whole social bubble allows people to mix with a fixed small group of family and friends. You may call it your cohort, your pod, your bubble, your squad, or your quaranteam.
Speaking at a press conference in Edinburgh, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has suggested there could be a change in the rules to allow “meeting up with a small defined group” of other people — outdoors at first — in a “sort of bubble arrangement”.
The idea is being reviewed by the Belgian government, which has also been considering allowing people to form “social bubbles” of 10 people, according to the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.
The experiment may succeed in countries with a small population like New Zealand, which has a population of around 5 million. But, it’s doubtful in large and densely populated countries like India, which has a population of over 1.3 billion. Countries with a little population and good healthcare system can easily take control of the situation in case the social bubble experiment may turn into community transmission.
The idea of social bubbles is not without risk, some experts say, and a major problem with it is that it depends largely on trust. The struggle would continue but just in a different form — how would you decide whom to include in your 10, and what if families can’t agree? What happens if you nominate a friend who doesn’t choose you? What happens if you have a seismic row with a friend midway through lockdown — would the system let you swap pals? It could be a nightmare!
In a new study led by Oxford University sociologists say that changing the way our social networks are structured — rather than simply reducing the amount we socialize — could be effective in flattening the curve. (Flattening the curve is a term used to describe slowing the virus’ spread so heath systems can cope with the number of people needing treatment.)
Your bubble is only as strong as its weakest link. If one or more members of your group are interacting with people outside of your network, the bubble becomes less effective as a preventative measure. Some friendship and relations might get ruined if we don’t choose them in our preferred names with whom we want to make a social bubble.
So, if you must, choose wisely. But if you can, stay home for now. There is still no consensus on the effectiveness and feasibility of this measure, and experts are still cautioning that loosening current restrictions to any extent could lead to the rapid spread of COVID-19. Take care, stay safe.