Marin Officials Advise Residents To Stay In 'Social Bubbles'

Kristina Houck

MARIN COUNTY, CA — Marin County health officials are encouraging people to stay in "social bubbles" to have fun while staying safe this summer amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Marin Public Health has adopted the "Social Bubble" concept, which supports socialization in small groups in outdoor settings. Previously, people were only allowed to interact with others from their own household.

"A lot of effort has gone into finding ways to reopen our local businesses and economy, but the friendships and social lives of our residents are just as crucial to our community's stability during the COVID-19 crisis," said Dr. Matt Willis, the county's public health officer. "This model will allow each of us to begin to engage with people from outside of our household unit as safely as possible."

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The Social Bubble model provides guidelines to safely socialize in-person with neighbors, extended family and friends during the pandemic.

A social bubble is a "stable group of 12 people or less who have collectively agreed to limit their in-person social activities to only each other for at least three weeks," according to the county.

Individuals belong to only one social bubble at a time, except for children who may belong to a second bubble related to a childcare or camp environment. Children living in two different households may participate with both parent's social bubbles, so they do not have to choose between them.

"We know families and friends miss each other and want to socialize together," Willis said.

"We also know people are already congregating outside their households in more risky ways. This model provides guardrails so small gatherings can occur in a safe way, especially as we move into the summer season."

While social bubbles allow more than one household to come together, members of each bubble are strongly encouraged to practice protective measures such as physical distancing, wearing face coverings, frequent hand washing, staying home when sick, and obeying isolation or quarantine guidelines if a member of the social bubble is exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19.

New Zealand and other countries have championed this approach. Other regional counties have also adopted the model, including San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

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This article originally appeared on the San Rafael Patch