What is Social Distancing? Everything You Need to Know

By now you would have heard leaders across the world calling for an increase in ‘social distancing’ to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, but what exactly does that mean? Well, for most of us, it means putting a halt on that concert, sneaker drop or gym sesh. That’s right, the gain-train is officially leaving the station, but when it comes to health, you can’t afford to be flippant. In fact, almost all crowded areas are a no-go, by the very definition of social distancing.

You can view NSW Health and the Australian Government’s official guidance on social distancing here:

What Does Social Distancing Mean?

According to NSW Health, social distancing is an effective measure in preventing the transmission of spreadable viruses. While the term can be a little vague, we’ve broken it down into some key focus points that you need to consider. While practising social distancing, you should steer clear of non-essential activities outside the workplace. Specifically;

  • avoid crowds and mass gatherings where it is difficult to keep the appropriate distance away from others,
  • avoid small gatherings in enclosed spaces, for example, family celebrations,
  • attempt to keep a distance of 1.5 metres between themselves and other people where possible, for example when they are out and about in public place,
  • avoid shaking hands, hugging, or kissing other people,
  • avoid visiting vulnerable people, such as those in aged care facilities or hospitals, infants, or people with compromised immune systems due to illness or medical treatment.

It’s always a good idea to practise social distancing in a health crisis, but we all know it’s not possible 100 per cent of the time. The most important thing is to remember is that you are trying to prevent transmission, so take to think about whether that shoulder pump is really worth it.

This Washington Post article explains why social distancing is so important and how it can flatten the coronavirus curve.

Social distancing doesn’t necessarily mean a free trip home from work either. NSW Health also suggested that while practising social distancing, people were still free to travel to work, even by public transport, albeit with a renewed focus on staying safe. That being said, a number of workplaces are already preemptively calling for remote operation, so it might be an idea to get your home office set up.

Social Distancing Tips

For those among us looking to get on board with the social distancing movement, there are a few basic tips to help kick-start the process.

  • You should aim to stay 1.5 metres away from other people while social distancing — (which can definitely be difficult if you’re on a packed bus or train).
  • Trips to the grocery store are fine. If you’re social distancing, there’s no need to live off canned goods just yet, provided you keep your distance from fellow shoppers.
  • The World Health Organisation says you do not need to wear a mask if you are not displaying any symptoms, but it won’t hurt to strap one on.

Things to Avoid

  • Group Gatherings
  • Sleepovers
  • Playdates
  • Concerts
  • Theatre Outings
  • Athletic Events
  • Crowded Retail Stores
  • Malls
  • Workouts in Gym
  • Visitors in Your House
  • Non-Essential Worker in Your House
  • Mass Transit Systems

Use Caution

  • Visting a Local Restaurant
  • Visit Grocery Store
  • Get Take Out
  • Pick up Medication
  • Play Tennis in  Park
  • Visiting the Library
  • Church Services
  • Travelling

Safe to Do

  • Take a Walk
  • Go for a Hike
  • Yard Work
  • Play in Your Yard
  • Clean Out Your Closet
  • Read a Good Book
  • Listen to Music
  • Cook a Meal
  • Family Game Night
  • Go for a Drive
  • Group Video Chats
  • Gaming
  • Stream a Favourite Movie or TV Show
  • Check on a Friend
  • Check on Elderly Neighbours

Can I Still Hang Out With My Partner or Family?

The simple answer is of course, but that doesn’t come without stipulations. People who are practising social distancing should avoid enclosed areas like family gatherings, weddings or any non-essential outings, like Friday arvo beers at the pub. You should also avoid physical interaction, which might be tough for some of you. That means no shaking hands, hugging or kissing, as the virus can be spread via droplets from close interaction between people. For our single brothers, it might be time to stop swiping. Take a break from Tinder and steer clear of physical contact with anyone new. At least for the time being.

While it’s definitely wise to reduce the number of outings you plan on making, social distancing is not quarantine. The biggest thing is to remain diligent, smart and avoid those non-essential activities you may have been considering, particularly if they involved interacting with vulnerable people, such as the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.