Young people will now be allowed to visit the houses of two of their friends from today as new rules come into play in NSW that loosen the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
From 12pm on 21 September, people aged 18 years and under who live in stay-at-home areas and areas of concern across NSW will be able to create a bubble of three friends and visit each other’s homes for play and activity
The announcement comes as the ‘friends bubble’ or ‘buddy bubble’ rules were signed off on by the state’s government crisis cabinet at a meeting on Monday night.
The rules now state that “Each child is allowed to have two designated friends come to their house. These two friends must always be the same, creating a three-person ‘friends bubble'”.
All the people who live in those households must be fully vaccinated and the group must all live within 5kms of each other, or in the same LGA.
Parents and carers dropping children off are not allowed to stay and interact with other parents or carers.
There is no longer a need to register bubble buddies or singles bubble connections with Service NSW.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that the strong vaccination rates seen in NSW have allowed for these changes to be made that she says will protect the wellbeing of young people.
“Parents and children have had a difficult few months, trying to balance both work, often from home, as well as home schooling,” Berejiklian said.
“This change will hopefully make a big difference for families during the school holidays and allow young children and teenagers to catch up and reconnect with their friends.”
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said that the government has tried to strike a balance between the best possible health outcomes, whilst easing the pressures on families and individuals living in lockdown.
“These latest changes are aimed at giving children more opportunities to be together and balances COVID safety with their mental health and wellbeing,” Hazzard said.
Minister for Education and Early Childhood Sarah Mitchell said this change would also benefit older students, allowing them to create a study bubble ahead of the HSC.
“Year 12 students have had a stressful few months, and with the HSC approaching, a study bubble is a great idea to help students maintain motivation, receive support from a classmate and continue their preparation for the upcoming exams,” Mitchell said.