Urgency needed from NPHET on Social Bubbles

Senator Rebecca Moynihan
16 October 2020
  • Guidelines needed by early next week.
  • Social bubbles have been used successfully in other countries.
  • LSE research shows important in reducing loneliness and improving mental health but also combatting spread of Covid-19.

Welcoming the commitment from NPHET last night to look at the concept of social bubbles, Labour Senator Rebecca Moynihan who has been raising this issue for several weeks, said there is a need for urgency is addressing social isolation and loneliness while also combatting the virus.

Senator Moynihan said:

“Now that the household visit ban is in place from today, there is an urgency needed from government and public health bodies in providing clear guidance and advice on social bubbles.

“I’ve raised this issue for several weeks, and I do welcome the acknowledgement yesterday by the Deputy CMO that NPHET will look at the concept.

“There are over 400,000 people in Ireland who live alone, and a further 200,000 single parent households. A household visit ban while necessary to control the virus is unnecessarily blunt and cruel for those living alone.

“That’s why I think it is absolutely essential that guidelines on how social bubbles could function be brought forward quickly over the weekend so that they can be put in place next week.

“Research from the London School of Economics has shown that not only did social bubbles reduce loneliness and improve mental health, but bubbles were also helpful in combatting the spread of coronavirus through emphasising the need for exclusivity and a defined group of social contacts. 

“We all understand the need to bring down community transmission of the virus, but other countries have understood the impact that isolation has and have allowed people to create social bubbles. The rules need to show compassion and be reflective of the type of households that people live in. Single person and single parent households shouldn’t be entirely cut off from any social contact or support during this crisis.

“The Government should do what countries like the UK and New Zealand have done in publishing guidance for social bubbles.

“A support bubble is a close support network between a household with only one adult in the home and one other household of any size.

“This would allow a household to form a bubble with an elderly parent or relative living alone. While I understand the need for all of us to limit our social contacts, we need to consider the consequences of completely isolating people who happen to live alone.”

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