New Zealand social bubble approach: What is it and why the UK might follow it

11 May 2020, 16:14 | Updated: 7 June 2023, 08:56

The UK government is loosening lockdown rules around socialising
The UK government is loosening lockdown rules around socialising. Picture: PA

What is the New Zealand social bubble approach? Boris Johnson confirms the UK could follow suit in new coronavirus lockdown guidelines document.

Social distancing rules changed in the new coronavirus lockdown review stating the UK could now meet with one person outside of their household as long as it was at a two meter distance and outside.

And in a new government document outlining the lockdown exit strategy for the UK, Boris Johnson and his team confirmed we could follow in New Zealand's footsteps and apply the social bubble approach when it comes to seeing our friends and family again.

Can we see our friends and family under new lockdown rules?

So what is New Zealand's social bubble approach? And why is the UK considering it? Here's what we know:

Boris Johnson is considering adopting the New Zealand social bubble approach
Boris Johnson is considering adopting the New Zealand social bubble approach. Picture: PA

What is New Zealand’s social bubble approach?

This approach basically allows you to have a small, core group of friends and family you can interact with while in lockdown.

New Zealand’s government website describes your initial ‘social bubble’ as a person’s household which was expanded to close relatives and local friends as they eased through their lockdown stages.

They said: “People must stay within their household bubble but can expand this to reconnect with close family, or bring in caregivers, or support isolated people.

"It’s important to protect your bubble if you extend it. Keep your bubble exclusive and only include people where it will keep you and them safe and well.”

Boris Johnson's coronavirus lockdown speech

What is Boris Johnson likely to follow the social bubble strategy?

In the coronavirus guidelines, Boris stated that the next stage of easing lockdown could include this approach to meeting friends and family.

It stated: “The Government has asked Sage to examine whether, when and how it can safely change the regulations to allow people to expand their household group to include one other household in the same exclusive group.”

This is to help those who are isolated or living alone and to also support families returning to work, for example, two households can share childcare.

It added: “This could be based on the New Zealand model of household "bubbles" where a single "bubble" is the people you live with. As in New Zealand, the rationale behind keeping household groups small is to limit the number of social contacts people have and, in particular, to limit the risk of inter- household transmissions.”