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Covid-19April 3, 2020

Siouxsie Wiles & Toby Morris: A note on apartments and bubbles

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About those handles and rails and communal areas …

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As Aotearoa enters week two of lockdown, it’s clear we’re all still working out what our “bubbles” look like and how to stay in them to stop the spread of Covid-19. New to the government’s Covid-19 website is some good guidance for people living in apartment blocks.

Recent decades have seen New Zealanders in increasing numbers choose apartment living. And the alert level four lockdown presents its own unique challenges.

The main thing to note is that an apartment block isn’t one big bubble. Instead it’s a collection of little bubbles that need to stay away from each other, just in case someone is incubating Covid-19. If you do live in an apartment block, here’s what that means for you.

If you’re lucky enough to have communal areas like gyms and pools, sorry, but they must be shut. No nipping over to each other’s apartments or going out to exercise together. Instead, you must stay two metres away from other people in the building. Make sure you wash your hands frequently, but especially before leaving your apartment, and immediately when you return.

If you need to come into contact with “high touch” surfaces – things like door handles, stair rails or lift buttons – get creative: use your elbows or knuckles instead of your fingers. And if you need to use the lift, wait until it’s empty and only use it with the people from your household bubble. These high touch surfaces and common areas will also need to be regularly disinfected. Lot of this stuff will run counter to your instincts, but remember: it’s making a difference, and the more we adhere to these principles, the quicker we’ll be able to start returning to normal.

One more important thing to remember: it’s not just OK, but laudable to help vulnerable, elderly, or self-isolating people in your building. Just avoid all physical contact and leave any groceries or deliveries at their apartment door.

Read Toby Morris’s new Side Eye comic, created with Siouxsie Wiles, here. And more of Siouxsie’s writing here.

Keep going!