From 12pm on Tuesday September 21, 2021, children across the region will be able to have a 'Friend Bubble' to allow them to see their friends during lockdown.
The announcement came from Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday night/Tuesday morning and has been welcomed by local children who are back in lockdown during the school holidays.
"It's awesome that we can see our friends again," 13-year-old Zara Hewson said.
"We just got to see everyone at school last week, but to spend the holidays without our friends again was going to be rough."
Zara had spent a lot of time during the previous lockdown talking to her friends throughout the day on the phone and through other apps while learning from home, however she had missed interacting with her friends in person.
"As great as it has been to be able to stay in touch with everyone through lockdown, to be able to do things with our friends and actually see them is a lot better than seeing them on a screen," Zara said.
The Friend Bubble is for two friends to visit a third child at a home provided the adults in their homes are fully vaccinated.
"Parents and children have had a difficult few months, trying to balance both work, often from home, as well as home schooling," Ms Berejiklian said.
"This change will hopefully make a big difference for families during the school holidays and allow young children and teenagers to catch up and reconnect with their friends."
The new freedom will allow children aged 18 years and under who live in stay-at-home areas and areas of concern across NSW will be able to create a bubble of three friends and visit each other's homes for play and activity, subject to the following conditions:
- Each child is allowed to have two designated friends come to their house. These two friends must always be the same, creating a three-person "friends bubble";
- All people older than 18 years in all the households must be fully vaccinated;
- The friends must reside within 5km of each other or in the same LGA; and
If parents/carers are dropping children off, they must not stay to interact with other parents or carers.
Minister for Education and Early Childhood Sarah Mitchell said this change would also benefit older students, allowing them to create a study bubble ahead of the HSC.
"Year 12 students have had a stressful few months, and with the HSC approaching, a study bubble is a great idea to help students maintain motivation, receive support from a classmate and continue their preparation for the upcoming exams," Ms Mitchell said.