In some good news for bored kids this school holidays, NSW has introduced a new policy on play dates.
The government said the ‘friends bubble’ was a concession for families who had done “doing it tough” during lockdown, with all children under 18 allowed to have a couple of their mates over for a catch-up.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said crisis cabinet agreed on Monday night to offer relief to families after much of the state had endured months of lockdown and home schooling.
“We’re in school holidays. Kids have done it really, really tough, parents have done it tough,” Mr Barilaro told the Nine Network on Tuesday.
“The mental strain, the wellbeing of our kids is important.
“So the crisis committee made a decision that we’ll allow those kids to come together, just like we have the adult single bubbles,” he said.
From midday on Tuesday, the ‘friends bubble‘ will begin, but the following caveats apply:
- It must always be the same three kids
- All adults in the house need to be fully vaccinated
- They must live in a five-kilometre radius, or in the same LGA
- Parents and carers are not to mingle while dropping kids off/picking them up
Children do not have to be vaccinated but they must stay in the same trio of friends.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the bubble was a “balancing act” that would help families.
“We’re in an epidemic and everything has to be a balance,” he said.
“The strict epidemiological views would be ‘we all should stay somewhere away from everybody else forever’, but the mental health issues and other socialisation issues and the fact that we’re human beings means there has to be a balance reached.
“We’ve got to recognise the need for mental health and socialisation and the things young people do as part of growing up, but keep them safe.”
Also on Tuesday, Alyssa, a 15-year-old member of the advisory group to the advocate for children and young people, told the daily health briefing what the bubble will mean to her and other NSW kids.
“Children and young people at the moment want to do the right thing but we also want to stay connected,” Alyssa said.
“Therefore being able to socialise whilst also abide by the new rules through the friendship travel bubble will definitely help us all greatly at the moment.”
The year nine student said she had noticed a lack of motivation among fellow young people towards their education during lockdown, and felt seeing friends would help combat this.
She also said it would “undoubtedly benefit their mental health”.