No obligation to invite four people into your “bubble”

From Sunday we will all be allowed to welcome a maximum of four people into our homes. However, at Friday morning’s press conference the experts from the National Crisis Centre were keen to stress that the relaxation on the rules on social contacts doesn’t mean that we are all obliged to invite four family members or friends round to visit us. Dr Yves Van Laethem said “You don’t have to arrange to meet four people, it can be less too”. Dr Van Laethem also express the importance of people acting responsibly and with a sense of civic duty once the rules are relaxed on Sunday. 

He added that "It is not the intention that grandparents should start looking after their grandchildren”. Those for whom seeing four friends or family members isn’t enough were reminded that “You can still go for a walk or do some sport with two other people, although they should always be the same two people”.

The virologist Steven Van Gucht stresses that the basis rules remain important when having social contact.

"Keep enough distance and if this isn’t possible wear a mouth mask. Think carefully about the household you choose. It is important that they choose you as well. You are entering a sort of contract that they don’t arrange to meet anyone else”.

Professor Van Gucht conceded that the four people chosen didn’t have to come from the same household, but added that it would be best if they did.

"Otherwise, the network becomes very big and this gives the virus a lot of opportunity to spread”.

The Crisis Centre’s Yves Stevens said that the measure “doesn’t give you carte blanche to arrange to meet up with anyone and everyone at will, but enjoy the weekend”.

Professor Van Gucht added that it is far from certain as to whether those that have had the virus are immune. "There is still no certainty about the length of immunity. The virus is still too new for us to know this. We know from other coronaviruses that people can become ill again, but then their illness is milder”. However, more research is needed to sure whether this is the case with COVID-19.