How do you practice social distancing while shopping? What about at work? How you engage in social distancing, or intentionally using physical distancing between yourself and others to slow the spread of a contagious illness, varies depending on the situation. These guidelines and practical tips can help you do it correctly in various environments.
General Guidelines for Social Distancing
Many states institute social distancing policies during a national or state emergency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these are some of the specific social distancing practices individuals and communities can take:
- Reduce or eliminate events involving people congregating in groups.
- Do not attend public spaces with large gatherings, such as busy parks, playgrounds, museums, and more.
- Work from home when possible.
- Eliminate or reduce voluntary movement from home.
- Only leave home for medical needs, food, and other essentials.
- Maintain physical distancing practices, such as staying at least six feet from others.
- Close schools for extended periods of time or move to electronic learning.
- Reduce or restrict visitation at extended care facilities.
- Reduce or cancel faith-based gatherings and meetings of congregations.
Real-World Social Distancing Tips
Reading social distancing guidelines is one thing, but practicing social distancing in the real world is quite another. These tips will help you keep a safe social distance in any situation.
Social Distancing Policy at Work
If your company allows it and you are not in a critical need job, you should work from home. This is the best way to ensure you aren't contributing to the spread during a pandemic. However, if you can't work from home, there are several social distancing measures you can:
- Increase space between work stations. Try to keep at least six feet of space between people.
- Stagger schedules. The fewer people working at the same time, the better.
- Cancel conferences. Large and small conferences are a bad idea when there may be spread of disease.
- Keep meetings small, or eliminate meetings all together.
- Avoid hand shakes and other physical contact with other people.
- Do not share phones, tools, or office space with others.
- Do not allow visitors in the workplace.
Social Distancing Measures While Shopping
Even during a pandemic, you need certain items, including food, medication, and other essentials. If you don't have these items in your food stockpile, you'll need to go shopping for them. These tips can help you maintain social distancing practices while you do it:
- Shop online whenever possible.
- Shop alone. Do not bring children or other family members to the store.
- Stay at least six feet away from other shoppers.
- Go to stores during less crowded times, such as late at night or during the workday.
- Use the self-checkout whenever you can to avoid close contact with workers.
- Do not take time to chat with people you meet in public places like stores.
Social Distancing Tips at Home
Most people spend a lot more time at home during a pandemic or other event requiring social distancing. In addition to disinfecting your home regularly, there are some key things to remember, even in your own home. These tips will help:
- Cancel all play dates and social events for kids.
- Do not allow visitors in your home. Cancel dinner parties and other gatherings you may be hosting or move them to a virtual space.
- Maintain at least six feet from any delivery person or repair person who comes to your home.
- If someone in your home gets sick, designate a bedroom and bathroom for that person to use. Minimize contact between the sick person and the rest of the home.
Outdoor Social Distancing Tips
In most cases, you can still go outside for exercise when you are practicing social distancing. The key is staying away from public spaces and maintaing a physical distance from people. Try these tips to help:
- Avoid commonly touched and very popular areas like playgrounds, golf courses, and climbing routes.
- If you see others while outside, keep at least six feet away. Change your path to keep the appropriate distance, even if this means you have to cross to the other side of a trail or road.
- Engage in any conversation or interaction with others from a distance of six feet or more.
- Don't share outdoor equipment with others, such as balls that many people may touch.
- Do not allow children to play with other kids in the neighborhood during this time.
When in Doubt, Use Your Best Judgement
Practicing social distancing can be effective in slowing the spread of a contagious illness. The key is understanding how to keep a safe physical and social distance in different situations. If you aren't sure what to do, simply use your best judgement. Most of the time, this will guide you in the right direction.