County of Marin - News Releases - Social Bubbles

For Immediate Release
June 19, 2020

“Social Bubbles” Allow Safe Small Group Gatherings

Outdoor socialization allowed for set groups of 12 individuals or fewer

San Rafael, CA – Marin Public Health is adopting a model that will guide residents on how to safely come together with a small groups of friends and families outside of a person’s immediate household. 

Under the prior shelter in place model, individuals were only allowed to interact with individuals from their same household. Now, Marin will implement the “Social Bubble” model, supporting residents to have small group socialization in outdoor settings.

“A lot of effort has gone into finding ways to reopen our local businesses and economy, but the friendships and social lives of our residents are just as crucial to our community’s stability during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin’s Public Health Officer. “This model will allow each of us to begin to engage with people from outside of our household unit as safely as possible.” 

A social bubble is a stable group of 12 people or less who have collectively agreed to limit their in-person social activities to only each other for at least three weeks. Individuals belong to only one social bubble at a time, except for children who may belong to a second bubble related to a childcare or camp environment. Children living in two different households may participate with both parent’s social bubbles, so they do not have to choose between them.

“We know families and friends miss each other and want to socialize together,” said Dr. Willis. “We also know people are already congregating outside their households in more risky ways. This model provides guardrails so small gatherings can occur in a safe way, especially as we move into the summer season.”

While social bubbles allow more than one household to come together, members of each bubble are strongly encouraged to practice protective measures such as physical distancing, wearing face coverings, frequent hand washing, staying home when sick, and obeying isolation or quarantine guidelines if a member of the social bubble is diagnosed with, or exposed to, COVID-19.

New Zealand and other countries have championed this approach, and other regional counties have adopted the model, including San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties.

Learn more about how to safely implement the social bubble model with your household:


Laine Hendricks
Public Information Officer
County Administrator's Office

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite #325
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7496
Email: Laine Hendricks
County Administrator website