Brits could safely hug friends and family again soon in 'social bubbles', experts say

5 June 2020, 14:07 | Updated: 5 June 2020, 14:16

Friends and family could meet in 'social bubbles'
Friends and family could meet in 'social bubbles'. Picture: Getty Images

Experts come up with scenarios that would allow people to see loved ones without social distancing measures.

Experts have said it could be possible for people in Britain to hug their friends and family again, if they follow strict social distancing rules with strangers.

Researchers at The University of Oxford say it would involve creating ‘social bubbles’ who could be treated as if they lived in the same household.

The team has said these measures wouldn’t risk the threat of a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus if the guidelines are followed.

In order to test this, experts created three scenarios that would enable people to interact closely with others.

Friends could reunite in 'social bubbles'
Friends could reunite in 'social bubbles'. Picture: Getty Images

Detailed in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, the first limited contact to everyone in one neighbourhood.

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The second involves regular contacts such as friends and colleagues, while the third idea would involve a social bubble or ‘social group’.

This strategy has already been tried out by other countries and would allow households to see other people from different households.

While people wouldn’t have to stand two metres apart from those in their ‘bubble’, they would have to keep two metres apart from outsiders when they were shopping and going to work.

All three of these strategies were found to be effective in keeping COVID-19 under control.

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Explaining the studies, researcher Dr Per Block said: “Under the first scenario, what could be done is that you meet people who live within your neighbourhood, so you could extend the radius of your contact to a block or two away from your home.

“In the second, the idea is you ask yourself – who are the people you interact with regularly?

“So you might have a group of friends, or you have a family that includes your parents, your siblings, your nieces and nephews, and you try to limit interactions to these groups.

“What that means is that you don’t meet haphazard contacts – such as that person you see once in a while only for specific activities, you don’t meet blind dates or Tinder dates or people that have not been embedded within your (immediate) community.

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“The third scenario is very similar to what’s been talked about as social bubbles, which basically is to keep sticking to the same people.

“So you need to decide on those two, three, or however many people and stick to meeting them.”

This comes after it was announced that Brits could meet up to six others not from their households outside, as long as they maintain strict social distancing.

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