Health Library

COVID-19: Social Distancing

Overview

Social distancing means putting space between yourself and other people. The recommended distance is 6 feet, or about 2 meters. This also means staying away from any place where people may gather, such as parks or other public gathering places.

Social distancing is the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This virus seems to spread from person to person through droplets from coughing and sneezing. So if you keep your distance from others, you're less likely to get it or spread it.

And social distancing is important for everyone, not just those who are at high risk of infection, like older people. You might have the virus but not have symptoms. You could then give the infection to someone you come into contact with.

Putting It Into Practice

Putting 6 feet, or about 2 meters, between you and other people is the recommended distance. Also stay away from any place where people may gather, such as parks or other public gathering places. So if possible:

  • Work from home, and keep your kids at home.
  • Don't travel if you don't have to. And avoid public transportation, ride-shares, and taxis unless you have no choice.
  • Limit shopping to essentials, like food and medicines.
  • Wear a cloth face cover if you have to go to a public place like the grocery store or pharmacy.
  • Don't eat in restaurants. (You can still get takeout or food deliveries.)
  • Avoid crowds and busy places. Follow stay-at-home orders or other directions for your area.

It may be hard to get some people to do social distancing. This may be especially true of older kids and teens. You might offer this information:

  • Think about others.

    This virus seems to spread easily and quickly. Those at highest risk of serious illness include older people and others who have serious health problems like diabetes or lung disease. You may not know that a friend or family member has one of these diseases. By limiting close contact, you can help protect the people you care most about and your community.

  • Remind them that social distancing isn't quarantine.

    Unless you are sick, you don't have to be trapped in the house. You can still get outside and be active. Fresh air is good for you. Just remember to keep that 6-foot space between you and others. Avoid gathering places like playgrounds and coffee shops. And wash your hands well when you get home.

Credits

Current as of: June 18, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine
Lesley Ryan MD - Family Medicine