The NSW Government Is Introducing Singles Bubbles for the Next Four Weeks of Lockdown
For the past five weeks, Sydneysiders who live alone haven't been able to have visitors to their homes — but that's now changing.
Lockdown isn't fun or easy for anyone, whether you've been through a few of them now or you're weathering your second prolonged stint of stay-at-home conditions. At the moment, everyone in the Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour region falls into the latter category. Spending all that time within your own house is particularly difficult if you live alone, however — and Sydneysiders without housemates have now been at home on their lonesome for almost five weeks.
It has taken more than a month — and, it seems to only have been motivated by the fact that the region will remain in lockdown for a further month — but the rules around folks who live alone are changing. Today, Wednesday, July 28, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced that the current stay-at-home rules will continue until at least 12.01am on Saturday, August 28, but singles bubbles will be introduced. So, there's bad news in general, but also some welcome news for people who've spent weeks by themselves now.
What's a singles bubble? It's an arrangement that allows folks who live alone to have another person over to their homes. You'll have to designate one specific person, and only that person can visit your house — and only once per day. That nominated person is the only person who can visit you during the next four weeks (in other words, you can't have a different person over to your home each day).
The singles bubbles will come into effect from 12.01 on Saturday, July 31; however, there are other caveats. With eight Sydney LGAs under stricter conditions from midnight tonight, Wednesday, July 28 — with people in the Parramatta, Georges River and Campbelltown LGAs joining folks in the Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown, Liverpool, Blacktown and Cumberland LGAs in not being able to leave their area for work, unless they work in emergency services, healthcare, or the aged care and disability care fields — this has an impact on singles bubbles. If you live within these eight LGAs, you have to nominate a person inside the same area, and also within ten kilometres of your house. If you live outside of the aforementioned LGAs, you must designate someone who also lives outside of them as well.
Other than singles bubbles, the rules about visitors at home aren't changing. So, no one else can have anyone over to their home other than for care purposes, which includes intimate partners. Basically, the singles bubbles arrangement will allow people who live by themselves to have a friend over. If it sounds somewhat familiar, that's because it has been a part of Melbourne's lockdowns over the past year; however, the New South Wales Government has resisted the setup until now.
For people who live alone, the rest of the current lockdown rules still apply. That means that you can still only leave the house for four specific essential reasons: to work and study if you can't do it from home; for essential shopping; for exercise outdoors in groups of two; and for compassionate reasons, which includes medical treatment, getting a COVID-19 test and getting vaccinated. Singles bubbles fall under the compassionate category.
You can also only go out shopping once each day to buy essential items — and, from midnight tonight, Wednesday, July 28, you can only go shopping within ten kilometres of your house, or within your LGA.
Plus, carpooling is still off the cards, and you can still only exercise in groups of two outdoors — and you can also only get sweaty within your local government area, or within ten kilometres of where you live.
As always, Sydneysiders are also asked to continue to frequently check NSW Health's long list of locations and venues that positive coronavirus cases have visited. If you've been to anywhere listed on the specific dates and times, you'll need to get tested immediately and follow NSW Health's self-isolation instructions.
In terms of symptoms, you should be looking out for coughs, fever, sore or scratchy throat, shortness of breath, or loss of smell or taste — and getting tested at a clinic if you have any.
Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour will remain in lockdown until at least 12.01am on Saturday, August 28. For more information about the status of COVID-19 in NSW, head to the NSW Health website.
Published on July 28, 2021 by Sarah Ward