If the loneliness and isolation of quarantine are getting to you, it may be time to embrace another solution: quarantine bubbles. These “quaranteams” involve strategically merging your quarantine circle with another for increased social interaction and mental wellbeing. While this probably sounds amazing to anyone who has spent close to four months alone with their cat or spouse, there are considerations to take into account to create a successful quarantine bubble.
The first step is to choose your quaranteam. If you have a group of neighbors, close family friends, or relatives who all live in the same house, you can easily establish a merger of your two households. This can also be done with multiple friends or couples who live alone. The key is to be open and honest about who you are interacting with, agree to strict ground rules about exposure and travel, and practice strong social distancing and personal protection measures when doing essential shopping or work. Establish the boundaries of your quaranteam and agree to zero visits outside your group.
The primary benefit of quaranteam is the social interaction they promote. A recent survey of U.S. adults found that 13.6 percent reported symptoms of serious psychological distress. Much of this can be linked to increased stress and loneliness. Physical and emotional closeness, as well as regular social interaction, promote mental wellbeing, and boost your mood. A quaranteam is a great way to take care of your mental health, without sacrificing your physical health.
Additionally, research has shown that, when done right, quarantine bubbles still protect you from exposure. A study using the social network theory found that, compared to no social distancing, quarantine bubbles would decrease the height of peak infections by 60 percent and result in 30 percent fewer infected individuals overall.
New Zealand and England have both promoted quarantine bubbles and a solution for overall wellness and both seem to be working effectively when combined with strong testing and exposure tracking capabilities.
There are some risks to consider before creating a bubble. Between 25 and 40 percent of COVID-19 patients are believed to be asymptomatic, so even if your group seems healthy, there could be risks. A solution to this could be testing everyone in the group before beginning physical proximity. Another factor is that not everyone shares the same exposure risks. It’s important to discuss who in the group is potentially immunocompromised or works with those who are.
The bottom line is the importance of open communication and planning. Set ground rules, pick a group of people you trust and respect, and have an honest line of constant communication. A few months ago, we shared a story about Dutch officials urging singles to find sex buddies during the quarantine. This solution is another way to satisfy that craving for human interaction, while still protecting yourself from disease!