Keep Your Social Circle Small
Who is in Your Bubble?
As Alaska slowly reopens its economy and eases restrictions, some Alaskans are wondering how much socializing is reasonable if we hope to continue to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Expanding Your Bubble During Phase 2
In Phase 2 of the Reopen Alaska Responsibly Plan, gatherings of fewer than 50 people are allowed as long as non-household members remain 6 feet apart.
But what about having dinner with one other household at your home, watching your friend’s children or allowing your children to play with their cousins or the children of your closest friend? What level of social interaction is currently considered safe?
Generally, and according to the state’s mandates, Alaskans are expected to keep at least 6 feet from all non-household members. However, in some cases, if a stronger support network is needed, Alaskans may begin to expand their social circle to include just a few others.
Once linked, the individuals within an expanded social bubble can visit each other’s homes, share meals, care for one another, help with home projects or go on recreational outings together. Children within that enlarged bubble may play with each other in close proximity, indoors or outdoors.
Outside that trusted bubble, all household members still must keep at least six feet apart from non-household members. Another important point is that once a household has expanded its bubble to include others, the members within that bubble need to remain consistent. You should not choose to include two new members one week, and then substitute one of those members for someone else the following week.
Maintain a small bubble for now. Include others cautiously. Pick a workout buddy or jogging partner and exercise with the same person consistently.
Family and friends
Create an agreement with another trusted household for more social support. Keep your bubble small and consistent. Outside your bubble, keep staying 6 feet away from other.
Joining with another household or just one or two individuals allows parents and caregivers to take turns caring for children, provides children with more opportunities to play and socialize with other children, and will help ease loneliness and provide improved social support for those who have felt isolated.
Some people may need to keep their social bubbles small. Individuals at high risk for serious illness or those whose work brings them in contact with high risk individuals may not want to expand their social bubbles at all to minimize exposure to others.
If Alaskans choose to expand their social bubble, they will need to first consider their risk for serious illness from COVID-19. Those most at risk, such as those 65 or older or people with an ongoing health condition will need to be the most restrictive, keeping their bubbles as tight as possible to prevent spreading infection into the group.
Know the Risks
The larger the group, the more socialization can occur, but with that comes added risk. If one person in the group becomes sick, that person will need to be isolated from the remainder of the household and everyone else who is not ill will need to remain quarantined, assuming close contacts occurred with the sick individual.
Information provided by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. For more information and worksheets visit the DHSS website.