Start Planning Your "Social Bubble" Now!

Are you ready to pick your coronavirus social bubble? Choosing a small group of people to socialize with could be your way out of quarantine.

Ever had to pick that one friend you would take with you to a deserted island? That hypothetical scenario is about to get real, as governments and public health officials deliberate next steps after relaxing social distancing guidelines. Some countries, including the United Kingdom, are considering allowing people to start socializing with a limited group of people. While officials in the United States have not publicly recommended this measure, it may be a way forward as states begin lifting stay at home orders and relaxing social distancing guidelines.

The idea is to limit your socialization in the immediate weeks and months to a group of about 10 people or less in order to limit your exposure to the coronavirus to some degree. Of course, this will increase your risk of contracting COVID-19 exponentially, especially each of these people is also going out in public to shop or exercise.

A preprint of a study by Oxford researchers suggests this could be an effective strategy, although the findings have not yet been peer-reviewed and therefore are still uncertain.

"There must be a middle ground between all of us staying at home and all of us meeting the people we want in the ways we want to," Per Block, the study's lead author and a sociology research lecturer at Oxford, told CNN.

"Our main aim here is to give people guidance on how they can structure their social surroundings so that hopefully in a year's time we are there, and not that people at some point just give up completely on social distancing, and that we are back in a second wave by the end of the year and have to start this whole staying at home business all over again."

When forming your social bubble, however, there are a few things to keep in mind, according to the study. For one, you want to stay in contact with people who live and work near you and are around the same age as you. In addition, your bubble is only as strong as its weakest link. If one or more members of your group are interacting with people outside of your network, the bubble becomes less effective as a preventative measure.

So, if you must, choose wisely. But if you can, stay home for now. There is still no consensus on the effectiveness and feasibility of this measure, and experts are still cautioning that loosening current restrictions to any extent could lead to the rapid spread of COVID-19

- Anagha Srikanth for