Choosing your bubble buddy

Around half a million Victorians live alone.

And state government policy has allowed single-dwellers in romantic relationships to see their ‘other’ under ‘intimate partner arrangements’ since the beginning of the pandemic.

Consider, then, those singles not in romantic couplings who, under the strict 5km-radius lockdown, cannot even see friends around the city for a walk.

It’s been tough on them, to say the least.

The relaxation of some coronavirus restrictions in Melbourne will now allow for more socialisation in the community.

Well, sort of.

After months of lockdown, single Victorians who live alone are now able to create a ‘single-person bubble’ with one other person.

So, as of Monday, singles who live alone, or with children, are now able to nominate a ‘bubble buddy’.

But you can only have one bubble buddy for the remainder of lockdown, making the choice a big one, and one you really don’t want to get wrong, say a group of Austrian researchers from Danube University.

Their study of more than 1000 Austrians after lockdown found people in unsatisfying relationships were almost three times more likely to experience depression or anxiety than those people who were happy with their partners, says a New Daily report.

Those who were satisfied in their partnership had better mental health than singles and people in unhappy relationships.

According to the study authors: “The lockdown is a challenge, especially for those with poor relationship quality.

“(Our study) underlines the fact that not only but especially in times like this, the choice of partner should be carefully considered.”

Your travel buddy can be another single friend, or someone in a couple or who lives with housemates.

You can travel outside your 5km radius to visit them, too.

Bubble buddies must wear a face mask at all times and must be home by the new 9pm curfew.

You can’t pick an entire household to bubble with, though. Even if it’s family.

That means many have to choose between seeing grandparents or parents, or face the uncomfortable prospect of ‘choosing a favourite’ child. And adult children can only see one of their parents, even if they live together.

If your buddy lives in a share house, their housemates must clear out of the house before you arrive.

And options for outings are limited.

You could meet at a supermarket or pharmacy, or hang out at the park or playground, during your allotted exercise time of two hours, split over a maximum of two sessions.

And, if you’re really optimistic, other restrictions may be eased depending on health advice, with potential for cafés and restaurants to reopen as early as this week should case numbers remain low.

Who is your bubble buddy? If you could only see one person for a year, real or imagined, who would it be?

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