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"Contact clusters" - how is this actually going to work?

(120 Posts)
Freethefrogs Mon 27-Apr-20 16:23:38

I keep seeing this idea mentioned as a possible way of easing the lockdown when it's safe to do so, as in choosing 10 or so people you can see rather than just your household. I can see how this might work if you're a very small nuclear family and have no desire to see any extended family, but for many others it will be almost impossible to execute. Take, for example, my own family situation. I live with my DH and our five year old. Both our parents are divorced and remarried. Both step parents on both sides have children of their own. We all get along brilliantly and see grandparents (all in their 50s, none vulnerable) 2-3 times a week. I have two siblings still living at home with my mum and stepdad. One of them has a girlfriend he doesn't live with. Her parents are also divorced.

I just can't get my head round how it would work. Like, even if I chose to see my mum only, and not my dad, well she lives with my stepdad, who will want to see his own children, who will want to see their own mother, who lives with her husband, who will also want to see his own children.

I'm one of five siblings so even at a small family gathering of immediate family only, 10 would be far exceeded!

Anyone else been thinking about this?

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Redolent Mon 27-Apr-20 16:32:08

Yes I was about to start a similar topic! It’s giving me anxiety just thinking about the potential for conflict and resentment...

Freethefrogs Mon 27-Apr-20 16:34:57

Oh I'm so glad it isn't just me! I have very few actual friends, I've always seen my family socially. My sisters are my best friends.

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MustBeDueSomeBetterFeet Mon 27-Apr-20 16:38:48

I think the whole concept needs to be seen in the context of providing some variety in terms of socialising, for sanity's sake. It's not obligatory; you could stay just in your household/nuclear family.

But, it could be a great thing for people who are mentally struggling with the situation.

If there's anyone who gets the hump about not being chosen for a particular cluster, they need to understand that the alternative is nobody seeing anyone for a while yet. Which would you prefer?

I assume there's be some other guidance here. IE, it'd need to be people within a close striking distance, for example? Or you may not wish to include someone in a cluster if they're working out of the home where no one else is? Or perhaps you'd want to exclude from a cluster anyone working in direct contact with more elderly people, or with Covid patients?

I guess it'll depend for everyone on their risk appetite, and their personal situation.

We've been self-isolating since the schools closed and not left the home. My parents have been doing the same. My in laws have been doing the same. We are pretty sure therefore - 5 weeks in - that none of us have the virus, and would be a good cluster as we can work from home. But if there's distance/driving to consider, we could exclude my in laws.

I think on another thread, someone mentioned this had been introduced in Canada so I'd be interested to see what the recommendation is there.

Redolent Mon 27-Apr-20 16:38:53

Sadly my family is already flouting various social rules so I don’t trust them to ‘contain’ the cluster. DH was like ‘well why don’t we agree to make a pact with xy couple so that our kids can socialise’ and that sounds so presumptuous and imposing...I’m sure they’ll want to prioritise their own family!

Freethefrogs Mon 27-Apr-20 16:42:14

But it isn't so much that I would be worrying about offending people if I didn't choose them for my cluster, it is that it is literally impossible to keep it to ten people. If I see my mum by default I also see my stepfather, my siblings, my brothers girlfriend, her parents, my stepsiblings, their mother, their stepfather and their other stepsiblings.

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gingajewel Mon 27-Apr-20 16:43:45

I also don’t get what happens for example if I choose up to ten people I want to socialise with, ie my mom and dad etc but then my mom and dad pick their friends aswell in the ten, so they are being exposed to both us and their friends and then the chain could go on and on!

VioletCharlotte Mon 27-Apr-20 16:44:37

It wouldn't work at all and there's no way of enforcing it. If they're going to relax lockdown rules, which they'll have to at some point, they'd be better of saying you can mix with a small number of people and observe social distancing.

Freethefrogs Mon 27-Apr-20 16:47:22

I understand the idea is that you all agree to only see the other ten but I cant see how that is going to work with stepfamilies in particular.

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WyfOfBathe Mon 27-Apr-20 16:48:24

I've thought about this too. We don't have any family in the UK, so if we were to expand our social circle it would be with friends. But most of our friends are very close with their parents/sibling etc, so would presumably choose them over us. This isn't an issue for us, as we're a family, not lonely, and happy keeping in contact online.

But if I didn't have DH and DC, and nobody wanted me in their "contact cluster", that could be heartbreaking.

WyfOfBathe Mon 27-Apr-20 16:49:34

I also don’t get what happens for example if I choose up to ten people I want to socialise with, ie my mom and dad etc but then my mom and dad pick their friends aswell in the ten, so they are being exposed to both us and their friends and then the chain could go on and on!

You'd all have to choose eachother. Everyone has to be happy with the other 9 people being their only contacts, to make a closed circle rather than a chain.

Freethefrogs Mon 27-Apr-20 16:51:24


I still don't see how that would work in some families as it would mean prioritising one set of children over the other. For us it would be effectively saying my stepfather couldn't see his own children until a vaccine, in order for my mother to see hers.

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Daffodil101 Mon 27-Apr-20 16:51:35

I’m slightly concerned that we wouldn’t be chosen for any cluster, given my DH’s frontline role.

It’s like people think he’s a walking virus. He’s got full PPE and he’s happy with that.

I can live with it, but my kids want to see their mates.

noblegiraffe Mon 27-Apr-20 16:54:02

In terms of mental health this is a terrible idea. So many people facing social rejection would be awful.

YippeeKayakOtherBuckets Mon 27-Apr-20 16:54:18

Yep, just my immediate family is 15 people. Add in DHs family and it’s 22.

I appreciate its better than nothing but it’s going to cause divisions.

Freethefrogs Mon 27-Apr-20 16:55:46

That's the thing, haven't even started on DH's family yet!!

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ClashCityRocker Mon 27-Apr-20 16:58:46

We tried to do the numbers just for one side - by the time you take into account siblings, kids etc there's no chance, and we don't have a huge family close by. One parent each side, three siblings between us living locally, four kids between them.

nellodee Mon 27-Apr-20 16:59:52

My over 70s parents have been isolating since the beginning of March. My house has been isolating since the middle. We have done click and collects, they have had deliveries.

Although they have other grandchildren, they are from households with lots more outside contact than ours, and the grandchildren are all 16 and older, whereas mine are very young.

I think it would be next to no risk for my parents to have contact with my children.

But I know it would be more complicated if I had two sets of parents, or if they had multiple gradchildren.

I think it will be a bit of a clusterf* for most people and cause a whole load of arguments, to be honest.

StrawberryBlondeStar Mon 27-Apr-20 17:00:32

We have no family local. We are also a family of 5. No ones going to want us. You know the saying, “no one invites you for tea when you have 3?” No one is going to want us in their bubble. They could get 2 couples, one with a child, for the price of us.

DDIJ Mon 27-Apr-20 17:06:30

I can't think of a single person we could start seeing.

Freethefrogs Mon 27-Apr-20 17:08:11

It just seems impossible to work out. So there are three of us. So say we saw my mum (4)

She lives with my stepdad (5)
And my sister (6)
And my brother (7)
Who has a girlfriend who lives with her parents (8,9,10)
Stepdad has three children of his own (11,12,13)
One of whom is married (14) with her own young DC) 15

That is 15 people and I haven't even come onto my fourth and fifth sibling yet, nor my Dad, nor any of my DH's family!

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RapunzelinQuarantine Mon 27-Apr-20 17:11:23

It would be a life saver for me (living alone, no family alive, haven’t seen another human being face to face in weeks) because I could finally see my partner (who also lives alone, family all thousands of miles away, also not spoken to another person in weeks). It’s ridiculous that we’re not allowed to form a bubble of two.

But I agree it would be massively problematic for many people.

Freethefrogs Mon 27-Apr-20 17:12:46

It’s ridiculous that we’re not allowed to form a bubble of two

Tbh if I had a partner and we both lived alone I would be seeing them.

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SnuggyBuggy Mon 27-Apr-20 17:12:58

I can see the threads where couples end up arguing over whose parents/side takes priority because they can't do both

Freethefrogs Mon 27-Apr-20 17:13:26

I can't even do one half of one side!!

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