What is a social bubble, how do they work, and is the UK Government going to use them?
26 May 2020, 16:17
As the Government considers ways to exit lockdown, what are social bubbles and how do they work?
Lockdown regulations came into place on March 23, and have remained in place in the UK ever since.
England recently introduced a slight easing to the restrictions with the main change being that people can meet one other person from another household in an outdoor place, as long as social distancing guidelines are followed.
While no other changes have been made to the lockdown restrictions, the Government have said they are looking into safe ways people can be reunited with friends and family members they haven't seen in weeks.
One of these strategies which could be considered is 'social bubbles', something other countries have used as they ease lockdown restrictions.
What are social bubbles and how do they work?
Social bubbles are a way for people to be able to see their friends and family again in a monitored and structured way.
While your social bubble is currently only the people you live with, there could come a time when your social bubble can be opened up to multiple households.
The idea of social bubbles revolves around the thought that people have close friends and family who they interact with the most, says Dr Joshua Moon from the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex Business School.
He explains: "The notion of social bubbles means that those individuals with whom you interact most frequently are part of your 'bubble'. These are both the people you are most likely to infect and the people who are easiest to track down when contact tracing."
"Strangers are less likely to be infected but are also harder to recall when you’re being interviewed by a contact tracer.
"When it comes to easing lockdown, it is therefore easier for people to be allowed to meet with individuals in their social bubbles because those contacts can be traced and isolated more easily, thereby reducing onward transmission."
The idea of social bubbles would also mean that the people in your social bubble are not meeting people from other households.
Are the UK using social bubbles?
At the moment, no.
Lockdown rules still state you should not meet with any friends or family, unless it is outside, only with one person and following social distancing rules.
While social bubbles aren't being used at the moment, they are an option as the Government continue to iron out the plans of how we move out of lockdown.