“Social bubbles” may just be the new norm of social interactions in Singapore.
Why? As Singapore faces a new wave of Covid-10 infections in the community, restrictions have been tightened to address the risk posed by the variant strains. While a multi-ministry task force said there was no need for Singapore to be placed in a second “circuit breaker” for now, as of 16 May, Singapore moved to Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), which banned dining-in and capped social gatherings to two people. This is why you may have been hearing about “social bubbles”.
In particular, the National Centre for Infectious Diseases’ (NCID) Associate Professor David Lye, who is also a senior consultant at Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s (TTSH) Department of Infectious Diseases, encouraged people to form their own “small social bubble” to keep Singapore safe. (Mind you, Professor Lye and other experts warn that the current outbreak could be more dangerous than it was before the circuit breaker last year, and urge people in Singapore to “do much more beyond what government dictates”.)
But what is a social bubble? How do you form one? And is it really safe? So glad you asked! Scroll for these answers and more!
What is a social bubble?
A social bubble is defined as a group of people who agree to limit their in-person social interactions to only visit each other, according to Professor Lye. People in social bubbles – a.k.a., “quaranteams” – can still visit each other and perform activities together, while staying within social distancing and other safe management measures.
As the name suggests, social bubbles are meant to be separate from other such bubbles. An individual having multiple social bubbles with different people will defeat the purpose of having any of such arrangements at all.
How can a social bubble keep me safe?
By committing to a small social bubble, you limit your physical interactions to a few selected people. This reduces your exposure to others, thereby reducing the risks of being infected by others, and reducing the risks of infecting many others.
You are also aware of who is part of your social bubble. This means you can take swift action to stem the spread of the disease should any member of the bubble be tested positive for Covid-19.
How do I form a social bubble in Singapore?
Professor Lye advises people to form their social bubbles with immediate family. This is because in-person interactions are already high within households, and thus there is a greater need to keep each other safe.
Beyond that, find a close friend or relative to be in your bubble. It will benefit you greatly if your social bubble consists of those you can trust and confide in.
After all, apart from protecting public health, a social bubble can act as a coping mechanism for many who are stuck at home.
What can I do in a social bubble?
The magic number remains at two, since social gatherings are capped at two people from 16 May onwards. These are some things you can still do as a pair:
Exercise together. What better time to get back on track with your fitness goals? Why not bring a family member or a friend along and sweat it out at a park or take a stroll down a quiet nature reserve? Just observe a safe distance of 2 metres between individuals and 3 metres between different pairs in, say, the same family.
Watch a movie or TV show together. Whether it is catching up on with favourite Marvel superheroes on Disney+, binge-watching a new series on Netflix, or crying your hearts out with your favourite K-Drama on Viu, there’s bound to be something for everyone!
Are social bubbles safe?
Social bubbles can remain safe as long as everyone adheres to the spirit of it. This means you have to stay committed to your specified groups, and follow safe management measures when outside together.
Likewise, should anyone in your close bubble feel unwell, advise them to seek immediate medical attention, together with you and others in the bubble.
Here are some other ways to keep yourself and others safe…
Wear masks with high filtration. Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who sits on the management of the multi-ministry task force, has also advised those in Singapore to wear masks with high filtration. This is especially so for those who will be in indoor spaces with people in close proximity.
Check out of TraceTogether. While the scanning of TraceTogether QR Codes (via phone) is mandated and regulated at all entry points, the checking-out of places is not. To keep accurate records of people’s movements, remember to check out of locations on the TraceTogether app after we have left the place.
Continue maintaining good personal hygiene. Wash your hands, use sanitisers, avoid touching unnecessary surfaces, yada, yada, yada. But, this is not the time to let you guard down. Wash your reusable masks frequently and promote these good hygiene practices to those around you. Check out these other helpful home hygiene tips to keep your house a safe sanctuary.
By Derrick Tan, May 2021
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