In her daily press conference on July 27, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian made the announcement that single people living by themselves will be able to visit one other person during the state’s extended lockdown.
It’s a huge and welcome relief for those who have been suffering the worst of the NSW lockdown as social distancing measures have barred indiviudals from entering each others homes unless they are in a relationship and live apart.
The rules had been considered unfair for those without a partner, thus allowances have been made for single people to also visit other single people for care, support, and, well, you know.
What Is the NSW Singles Bubble?
“If you have been or are living by yourself you’re allowed to nominate one person who can visit you,” Berejiklian announced.
The so-called ‘single bubble’ means that people living alone can have one other person come to their house.
Those living alone will have to nominate one other person who they can visit and who they can visit if that person also lives alone.
The individual must be the same person over the next four weeks — so choose wisely.
Individuals living alone within the eight local government areas of concern where the number of COVID cases is highest can only visit someone within their same LGA or within a 10km radius (whichever is greater).
Anyone living alone outside of those LGAs can only visit someone outside of the LGAs of concern.
Those eight LGAs are Cumberland, Canterbury-Bankstown, Blacktown, Liverpool, Fairfield, Parramatta, Campbelltown, Georges River.
When Will the Singles Bubble Start?
The premier did not specify a time when the new rules would take effect so it’s safe to assume that they are currently in place as of now.
“You have to nominate the one person who is your buddy so we don’t spread the virus,” Berejiklian said.
“Households remain the biggest problem in NSW, the reason why we have contained funerals to 10 people is because of how contagious the environment is.”
“You might think you’re doing your aunt or grandma a favour by dropping in and giving them food and saying hello, that could be their death sentence.”
“Do not move amongst households, that would be passing on the virus and passing serious illness or worse to those closest to you.”
The move was expected as it had been agreed upon at the NSW crisis cabinet meeting on July 27.
Lockdown has been a tough time for everyone but for those living alone, who have not been allowed to have visitors within their homes, it has been particularly tough.
The new provisions will allow individuals living alone to have some extended social contact, a much needed component of mental health care and wellbeing.
Other places around the world have made similar exemptions during lockdown periods. In Melbourne and South Australia, singles bubbles have always been part of their lockdown plans.
This doesn’t allow single people to visit houses indiscriminately but instead provides a safe way to allow them some respite from the isolation of lockdown.
Berejiklian also confirmed that the Greater Sydney lockdown will continue for a further four weeks until at least August 28. That includes Greater Sydney, Wollongong and the Blue Mountains.
Update to the Singles Bubble
As of August 13, NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller has said that rules will be tightening around the COVID-19 singles bubble and people exercising as part of a renewed push to slow the spread of the Delta strain.
In just the past few weeks, the virus has spread far beyond Sydney and the surrounding regions, with Byron Bay and the Hunter Valley regions also placed into lockdown.
An additional 500 troops from the Australian Defence Force will be deployed in Sydney’s worst affected areas.
People ‘flouting’ the rules is argued to be the cause of the spread according to NSW authorities and so a crackdown on people leaving the house against the regulations is expected to be enacted.
There has yet to be an announcement on exactly what this will look like but there could be requirements to formally nominate an individual as part of a singles bubble. Currently, there are no expectations to do so, or to prove a relationship exists between two people.