Sydney singles have been given confirmation that they will be allowed to form a bubble with one other person after the NSW Government extended the city’s coronavirus lockdown for at least four more weeks.
The new rule means those living on their own will be able to nominate one other person who can visit their home despite the restrictions.
For those living in one of the eight local government areas under tighter lockdown restrictions, the nominated person must live within a 10-kilometre radius of their home.
“If you have been or are living by yourself, you are allowed to nominate one person that is allowed to visit you, but it has to be the same person,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
“You cannot have a different person every day."
Chief health officer Kerry Chant raised concerns about the “mobility” that would occur due to the bubble system and households being a concern for virus spread, but mental health concerns have outweighed the risk.
'We have to think of our single people too'
Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney Jess Scully has been calling for a 'singles bubble' amid the prolonged lockdown.
She told SBS News that the mental health of singles needed to be considered just as much as that of couples or families.
“In the inner city 37 per cent of households are people who live alone and in Greater Sydney it’s 21 per cent,” she said.
“That’s a high proportion - we have to think of our single people too.”
Jess Scully is the Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney and says a high proportion of inner city residents live alone. Source: Supplied
Melanie Tait is currently single and lives alone in Sydney’s inner west with her two dogs.
“The only opportunity we’ve had to have social time with other people has been having a walk in the park which doesn’t really cut it in terms of our emotional needs,” Ms Tait told SBS News.
“I really rely on my social life to keep me mentally healthy.
“Without those things everything starts to crumble a little bit … I certainly in the first few weeks felt the wheels starting to slip off the tracks.”
Ms Tait started a petition when the lockdown began to offer single people the same social rights as their coupled counterparts. It gained 11,500 signatures.
“It’s a victory now,” she said.
Melanie will be bubbling with her sister Sarah who is also currently single. She said she is looking forward to watching a movie and sharing dinner together. Source: Supplied
But for Ms Tait, the greatest outcome of the singles bubble is being able to spend time with her sister, who is also single.
“I have lived with depression on and off my entire life and I just felt myself going into one not being able to see anybody," she said.
“I’m an extrovert, I need the energy of other people.
"I’m so grateful to have this one little thing to connect with another person.”
'Company is crucial'
Dr Grant Blashki, the lead clinical adviser at Beyond Blue, says having company is "crucial" at the moment.
“During the lockdown if you’re on your own, there are a lot of hours in the day just in your own thoughts,” Dr Blashki told SBS News.
“We know from the research that having company and dealing with that loneliness is really good for mental health.
“We’re delighted to see that people have the opportunity to connect with someone, especially for those who are isolated at the moment.”
He said isolation was something people really needed to make an effort to overcome.
“So if that’s connecting up through a bubble or making arrangements where people can catch up with each other within the safe public health requirements, that’s a really good thing."
Claudia Klein says the singles bubble will help with her mental wellbeing. Source: Supplied
A need for connection is a relatable feeling for Claudia Klein, an expat from the Netherlands who is recently single. She is living alone for the first time.
“It’s the silent pain of expats not being sure of when we will see our families again, so it’s been difficult to not be able to distract myself during this lockdown,” she told SBS News.
“Living alone is exciting but not when you can’t have anyone over.
“Being now able to see a close friend means a lot to me.”