The Victorian government’s roadmap out of pandemic lockdowns includes new provisions for single people living alone and single parents: the “single social bubble” system, which comes into effect on September 14.
Under the new system, if you’re a single person living alone or a single parent with children under 18, you can nominate one other person to be a part of your bubble.
Watch: Daniel Andrews extends lockdown. Post continues below.
The nominated person can visit your home and you can visit theirs — but only under certain circumstances.
Both the single person and the nominated person must wear masks during the visit.
The system will replace the old rule, under which people could leave the house to visit an intimate or romantic partner but not a friend.
We collected answers to some common questions and asked three experts — an epidemiologist, an academic who researches sharehouses, and a philosophy researcher who examines how governments make rules around different types of relationships — to reflect on the new rules.
How long will I have to wear a mask?
Potentially for a good while yet.
Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services told The Conversation:
Masks will remain a tool in our fight against coronavirus for the foreseeable future. We have seen that there is more and more evidence to support the use of masks in slowing the spread of coronavirus. They are relatively inexpensive, accessible, and not too much of an imposition.
We expect that they will continue to be a part of our daily lives for some time to come.
FAQs for the roadmap to recovery in Victoria can be found on the Vic gov website here.
I’m single but live in a sharehouse or with family. Can I form a single social bubble with my friend?
No. The government factsheet says:
You can only nominate a person to be a part of your ‘single social bubble’ if you live alone, or are a single parent.
If you’re single and live alone, does the person you nominate also have to live alone?
No. Your nominated person can live in a sharehouse or with family. The factsheet says “you are also able to visit them in their home, but only when they are alone.”
So their housemates or family must be out of the house when you (the single person) wants to visit.
I live alone but am not single. Can I nominate a social bubble person to visit - my best friend or my sister, for example?
You’re faced with a tough choice. According to the Victorian government’s FAQ sheet:
people must choose whether they wish to see their intimate partner or form a ‘single social bubble’ with another nominated person.
If you designate someone to be in your bubble, is there some formal procedure? Do you have to register the person or get a permit?
No. If you’re a single person living alone or a single parent, your “nominated person” doesn’t need a permit - the Victorian government says it’s relying on people to “do the right thing”.
The epidemiologist’s view: analysis from Mary-Louise McLaws
I am glad the rule on masks is remaining in place for a while yet. It’s a cost effective way to reduce transmission.
I am pleased the government has responded to calls from the community for compassion. I have argued before in favour of the bubble concept.
Yes, there are a lot of rules about how the single social bubble system will work in practice and some single people will miss out but I can understand why the authorities have done that.