The tie-dyes that bind: Good friends can now bubble up and get busy

Friends Erin Kinley and Jenna Gray have a host of activities lined up for their first "bubble" hangout – playing cards, walks, cooking meals, watching movies and a spot of craft.

"We’re both getting into tie-dying clothing at the moment, which sounds naff but it’s really fun," says Ms Kinley, who wishes Melbourne's new lockdown bubble rules had been introduced earlier but is grateful for the concession.

Single friends Erin Kinley and Jenna Gray are planning to do more tie-dying.Credit:Simon Schluter

Eased stage four-lockdown rules now permit pairs of people or entire households to form "public gatherings", such as sitting in a park for up to two hours without the pretence of exercise. The metropolitan night-time curfew has also been pushed back an hour to 9pm.

Another sign of normality was restored at Melbourne's parks on Monday morning, as families swarmed playgrounds and hazard tape was gleefully stripped from swing sets that had been untouched for nearly six weeks.

In one of the most pined-for developments, singles, are now allowed to form "social bubbles" with a friend or family member.

Ms Kinley, says she and Ms Gray, who lives in Alphington, are both from New Zealand and have no family in Melbourne.

"Everyone knows how valuable friends and platonic relationships are. Just because we’re not romantically involved doesn't mean we’re not deeply involved in each others lives," she says Ms Kinley, who currently calls East Brunswick home.

While the rule works well for Ms Kinley and Ms Gray, many say the restrictions are unworkable. Unlike those considered "intimate" or romantic partners, those in social bubbles cannot visit a household where other housemates are present.

Rue Nhongo, 29, from Craigieburn, is desperate to see her family, and says her excitement about the new bubble allowance dampened when she read the fine print.

She wants to see her young niece and nephew, but is still unsure how she will manage to do it.

"I’m going to have to visit them without one of the adult's being present and I’m not sure how that’s going to work."

She said it was unfair that singles were under stricter conditions than intimate partners – including the requirement to wear masks during the catch-ups.

“We’re going to be eating together, cleaning up together. What’s the point in wearing masks and doing all of that?" she said.

"I don’t reality understand the purpose of it and who is going to be policing all that?"



Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton on Monday remained firm on the rule that those in social bubbles needed to wear masks while visiting – even indoors.

"My policy team recommended masks to be mandatory. Cabinet accepted that and I accept that. That will be the requirement," he said.

As long as Melbourne meets it's 14-day average target of 30-50 cases, the next phase of eased restrictions will come into effect on September 28 – a fortnight from now.

At stage two, Melburnians will be allowed to have up to five people from two households meet together outside the home, childcare centres will re-open and some workplaces will go back to working on-site.

Professor Sutton said on Monday he was "sure" the 14-day average would drop below 50 by the end of this week.

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