There could be slight reprieve on the horizon for Victorians living and working in isolation during Stage 4 coronavirus restrictions as authorities explore the possibility of “household bubbles”.
The concept of a system that would allow singles to visit their immediate family was discussed by Premier Daniel Andrews on Saturday after it was put to Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton on Twitter.
Professor Sutton responded to a Twitter user on Friday who said they were struggling with having no human contact under the current lockdown in Melbourne.
“Hi Brett, when restrictions change could you consider [a] household bubble for singles? I live alone and work from home. No human contact for four weeks so far #awful,” their tweet read.
Prof Sutton empathised with the social media user and confirmed the idea was being “talked through” and was “under active consideration”.
Mr Andrews on Saturday was hesitant to suggest a plan of the sort would be introduced in the immediate future, saying daily new cases would need to be far lower than they currently are.
“It is a bit early for us to finalise those matters but we are looking very closely at that [household bubbles] because we do know, we have had a lot of feedback, that this is particularly challenging for those who live on their own,” he told reporters.
“We want to try and support them and indeed every Victorian, with a clear, dedicated, logical but also meaningful plan for opening up, but it is just a little too early for us to be able to settle on that.”
He said in developing a plan for the weeks and months ahead, authorities needed to ensure that it “meets a need but doesn’t undermine the strategy”.
In a broader context, the idea of a single person being permitted to spend time with their immediate family was being considered.
“I think the notion of movement and the notion of being able to spend time with your immediate family, say, or someone who is nominated if you are a single person, that is something we are looking at in a broader context,” he said.
Planning would move forward depending on how case numbers tracked in coming days, as Mr Andrews said they need confidence it “would not undermine all the good work that has gone on”.
“That would put at risk getting to the other side of the second wave and then being able to open up meaningfully,” he said.
Victoria recorded 18 more COVID-19 deaths and 94 new cases on Saturday, marking the first time in almost two months diagnoses have been below 100 in a day.
Grim statistics have given insight into the mental health toll the coronavirus pandemic is having on people, with unemployment and rates of self harm skyrocketing. People required to stay within five kilometres of their home, often without access to any open green spaces isn’t helping either, according research fellow and psychologist at Black Dog Institute, Alexis Whitton.
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