Social distancing has become a buzzword these days. Across the world, health officials have instructed the public to stay home, avoid crowds, and refrain from touching one another. But what really are the rules of social distancing?
Even while living like this can be lonely, inconvenient, and even frightening, it’s important that all of us follow the social distancing rules for the greater good, to help the collective rather than the individual.
Here Are The Social Distancing Rules Explained, Some Dos And Don’ts, And Tips To Follow To Ensure That You’re Doing It Right
What Is Social Distancing?
Also known as physical distancing, social distancing is the practice of keeping space between yourself and other people. This is one of the most important steps you can take to reduce the transmission of easily communicable diseases like COVID-19, which is transmitted through infective respiratory droplets. It’s also essential to avoid being exposed to this virus and slowing its spread, as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.
Limit close contact with individuals outside your household. Although the risk of severe illness may be different for everyone, anyone can get and spread COVID-19. So, we all have a role to play in following the rules of social distancing to slow the spread and protect ourselves, our family, and our community.
To practice it effectively, follow these dos and don’ts of social distancing:
- DO stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from other people.
- DO work from home wherever possible.
- DO step outside to visit grocery stores, pharmacies, and some parks and outdoor areas (depending on where you live), but go alone, and go nowhere else.
- DO use the telephone or online services to contact your doctor, unless it’s an emergency.
- DON’T have close contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include a persistent cough and/or high temperature.
- DON’T use public transport, rideshare services, and taxis as far as possible.
- DON’T gather in public spaces such as parks and stores (note that in many countries pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut).
- DON’T participate in gatherings with friends and family you don’t live with. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phones, the Internet and social media.
This advice applies to people of all ages, including teens and children.
Why Is Social Distancing Important?
COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Respiratory droplets from their mouth or nose are launched in the air and land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. People who are infected but do not have visible symptoms also play a role in the spread of the disease.
A person can get infected by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it. The virus is then transferred by them touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. COVID-19 can live for hours or days on a surface, depending on factors such as sunlight and humidity. However, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, which is why we must follow the rules of social distancing.
Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay away from others as much as possible, even if you have no symptoms. Social distancing is especially important for people who are at a higher risk of getting very sick, such as those with diabetes, respiratory problems, hypertension and other underlying conditions.
Additionally, by keeping the number of sick people low, we avoid health care systems from getting overwhelmed. Hospitals shouldn’t have more patients than they can deal with, as they are also likely to be understaffed and under-equipped at the same time. And it’s not just the COVID-19 patients that are at risk; other sick people of all ages, and emergency cases like car accident victims, for instance, will be impossible to take care of when the system is too slammed to work.
How Are Quarantine And Isolation Different From Social Distancing?
Quarantines and self-quarantines are used to keep people separate from others, with movement outside the home (or current places of residence) limited. Its aim is to keep people who have been exposed, or who might have been exposed without knowing it (for example, when travelling or out in the community), away from others as much as possible for a period of at least 14 days. It is a step up from social distancing, as the person involved has had a higher chance of exposure.
People in this circumstance who don’t live alone should do their best to retreat to a separate area in their home, and not go out shopping, eating or socialising. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for example, is self-quarantining because his wife tested positive for the virus. Meanwhile, people who have recently travelled internationally are often placed in quarantine.
Isolation is used to separate those who are sick from healthy people. Those who are showing symptoms, or who have tested positive for COVID-19 are placed in isolation. People who are in isolation should stay home, where they must separate themselves from others. In addition, the person in isolation will be asked to wear a mask when leaving their room, and those caring for them (whether family members or medical professionals) will be asked to do so as well.
So, TLDR; Social distancing is for everyone; those who might be sick (or exposed to those who are sick) are in quarantine, and those who are definitely sick are placed in isolation.
Here Is Some Social Distancing Advice To Keep In Mind
Should You Be Ordering Takeout And Food Delivery?
There isn’t any evidence that the virus can live on cooked food, so it’s safe to order food from restaurants. It also helps restaurants and delivery drivers who may be losing money during this pandemic. Remember to avoid paying in cash, and ask the delivery person to leave your food outside the door to avoid any interaction. Disinfect the takeout containers and wash your hands before eating.
Where Can You Go To Exercise?
While you can’t visit a gym right now, you can still exercise at home. In many countries, you can also exercise outside—going on a secluded run, walk, or bike ride, as long as you maintain at least six feet distance from other people, as well as following the other rules of social distancing.
What About Visiting The Doctor Or Dentist?
Avoid going to the doctor or dentist unless you have an urgent appointment or are seeking help due to Coronavirus symptoms. It’s also best to cancel any appointments or elective procedures that aren’t critical. Avoid going to your doctor’s office and instead, look into getting consultation over a video call. If you think you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, call the doctor before showing up so you don’t put yourself and others at a higher risk of infection.
How About Visiting Family And Friends?
Don’t. Visitors aren’t a great idea right now, especially with older adults (over the age of 60) as you could unwittingly infect them. However, if you’re social distancing with your family or with roommates, it’s okay to continue hanging out with them.
Can You Stay Connected While Staying Away?
It is very important to stay in touch with friends and family who don’t live in your home. Call, video chat, or stay connected using social media. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations and having to socially distance yourself from someone you love can be difficult.
Should You Still Travel?
Under most circumstances, you shouldn’t be travelling at all. Airplanes, trains, buses and cruise ships contain lots of people packed together for long periods of time, which make them a hotbed of virus transmission. Avoid visiting family, especially if they are sick or elderly. However, some people don’t have a choice—those work for the airlines or trains, or are travelling because they’re doing COVID-19 related work. So the fewer of us who travel, the safer those essential workers will be.
So, How Long Will This Last?
Now that we’ve covered what social distancing is, and how to go about doing it, you might be asking yourself, how long is this going to last? The short answer is—probably for a few more months.
Even once the outbreak is under some kind of control and numbers are down, immediately going back to the way things were could result in a resurgence of cases. This might mean that we continue following the rules of social distancing in some form to prevent this, at least until we have a vaccine.