The term social distancing has been limited to staying away from people for at least 1 metre as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, it is important we know that the concept is far more than just staying at a distance from people. It can also mean total staying away like remaining at home, etc. Let us consider some of the dimensions in application of Social Distancing.

What is Social Distance?

Social distancing refer to a conscious effort to reduce close contact between people and hopefully stymie community transmission of infectious diseases. Social distancing is a term applied to certain actions that are taken by Public Health officials to stop or slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease. The Health Officer has the legal authority to carry out social distancing measures. Since these measures will have considerable impact on our community, any action to start social distancing measures would be coordinated with local agencies such as cities, police departments and schools, as well as with state and federal partners.

Dimensions of Social Distancing

Keep your distance

One way to slow the spread of viruses is social distancing (also called physical distancing). The more space between you and others,

the harder it is for the virus to spread.

In public

Social distancing in public means people:

  • stay at home unless is absolutely necessary
  • keep 1.5 metres away from others

  • avoid physical greetings such as handshaking, hugs and kisses
  • use tap and pay instead of cash
  • travel at quiet times and avoid crowds
  • avoid public gatherings and at risk groups
  • practise good hygiene



Steps for social distancing in all homes include:

  • stay at home unless going out is absolutely necessary

keep visitors to a minimum

  • reduce visits to the shops — instead, buy more goods and services online if you can for pick-up, pre-order or delivery
    carefully consider what travel and outings are necessary, both individual and family
    regularly disinfect surfaces that are touched a lot, such as tables, kitchen benches and doorknobs
    increase ventilation in the home by opening windows or adjust air conditioning

If someone in your household is sick, you should:

  • care for the sick person in a single room, if possible
    keep the number of carers to a minimum
    keep the door to the sick person’s room closed. If possible, keep a window open
    wear a surgical mask when you are in the same room as the sick person. The sick person should also wear a mask
    protect other vulnerable family members by keeping them away from the sick person. At-risk people include those over 65 years or people with a chronic illness. If possible, find them somewhere else to live while the family member is sick.

At work

If you can, work from home. If you cannot work from home and you are sick, you must not attend your workplace. You must stay at home and away from others

Steps for social distancing in the workplace include:

  • stop shaking hands to greet others
  • hold meetings via video conferencing or phone call
  • put off large meetings to a later date
  • hold essential meetings outside in the open air if possible
  • promote good hand, sneeze and cough hygiene
  • provide alcohol based hand rub for all staff and workers
  • eat lunch at your desk or outside rather than in the lunch room
  • regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that many people touch
  • open windows or adjust air conditioning for more ventilation
  • limit food handling and sharing of food in the workplace
  • avoid non-essential travel
  • promote strict hygiene among food preparation (canteen) staff and their close contacts
    consider if you can reschedule, stagger or cancel non-essential meetings


In schools

If your child is sick, they must not go to school or childcare. You must keep them at home and away from others

To reduce the spread of viruses or germs in schools:

  • wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser when entering school and at regular intervals
  • stop activities that lead to mixing between classes and years
  • avoid queuing
  • cancel school assemblies
  • have a regular hand-washing schedule
  • regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that many people touch
  • conduct lessons outdoors where possible
  • consider opening windows and adjusting conditioning for more ventilation
  • promote strictest hygiene among food preparation (canteen) staff and their close contacts


Keep in touch with others

You can still keep in touch with loved ones while you practise social distancing:

  • use video chats
    schedule phone calls to chat with others you would normally see
    use online groups to interact
    chat with neighbours while keeping 1.5 metres apart
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