Like most Victorians, I haven’t been allowed to invite friends over for the past month. It’s not ideal. I was hardly the most sociable person in Melbourne before Stage 3 lockdowns came into effect, but I’d still like the opportunity to play some cards, crack a couple of beers, and, most importantly, talk shit.

I’m lucky, though. I share this apartment with two housemates, which makes the isolation situation somewhat easier, and the fact Victorians can visit their partners in adherence with the official guidelines means I can see three (3) people on a somewhat regular basis.

Last night’s Q+A focussed on people whose social lives look markedly different due to the state’s lockdown provisions, including folks who live alone – and whose ordinary social ties have been severed by the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Alison Sexton-Green asked a solid question of the panel: If punters can still see their partners, why can’t single folks who live alone nominate one friend to enter their ‘social bubble?’

The answer is sad and unsatisfying, but it makes sense.

Dr Killian Ashe, a psychiatrist at Royal Melbourne Hospital, acknowledged the “stress in our community,” but said it was vital to cop the advice of epidemiologists and public health experts who are pushing for as little interpersonal contact as possible.

“This is unbelievably difficult for people living alone, and I’ve seen a significant increase in presentations in the public hospital and the private clinics of those who are already marginalised,” he conceded, before adding that the guidelines have been put in place for a reason.

(As an aside, imagine being someone’s nominated mate and having to turn down another friend. Not a situation you’d ever want to be in.)

Dr Ashe also urged the most “popular” people in a social circle to reach out and have a chat with their mates who might be doing it tough. Sure, it’s advice you’ve heard before, but it’s something you’ll have to keep in mind for the next few weeks.

We’ll be sinking drinks and talking shit soon.

Watch the chat below:

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