Social Distancing Q&A
Learn more about social distancing and actions you can take to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community from COVID-19
- Social distancing means practicing certain social behaviors that may lower your risk of catching COVID-19, slow the spread of disease, and protect vulnerable members of your community.
- You can practice social distancing by keeping a distance of about six feet between you and other people, canceling group events, and avoiding people who are sick.
- If you are sick, stay home, isolate yourself from other members of your household, and call your healthcare provider.
Connecticut and New York governors announced statewide temporary shutdowns of businesses and schools including bars, dine-in restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, and other non-essential establishments. These measures are part of an effort to encourage residents to practice “social distancing” and limit the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
By now, we have all heard the term “social distancing,” but what is it, how does it help to control the spread of disease, and how will it impact individuals, families, and communities? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about social distancing.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing means practicing certain behaviors that can lower your risk of catching COVID-19. These behaviors include keeping a distance of about six feet between you and other people, canceling group events, and avoiding people who are sick. When practiced along with everyday healthy habits such as frequent hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes, these behaviors may reduce possible spread of the disease.
How does social distancing help?
In addition to protecting yourself, social distancing can limit or slow the spread of COVID-19 in your community, which may reduce the strain on healthcare resources and protect people at high risk of developing complications related to the disease.
How do I practice social distancing at home?
Take everyday precautions to prevent the spread of disease, such as frequently wash hands, don’t share food or drinks, wipe down often-touched surfaces with disinfectant wipes, and avoid close contact with anyone in your household who is sick.
If your household includes someone at high risk of developing complications related to COVID-19, such as an older adult or someone with a health condition that affects their heart, lungs, or immune system, healthy household members should still practice social distancing. If possible, the vulnerable household member should have a protected space in the house.
How do I practice social distancing at work?
Although many people are now working from home or are not working due to business closures, essential employees in certain industries still have to report to their jobs. These employees can still practice social distancing at work.
Healthy employees should avoid personal contact, such as shaking hands, in-person meetings, and office luncheons or parties. Videoconferencing, email, and other telecommuting tools should be used instead. Contact between healthy employees and the public should also be minimized.
Employees who are required to report to work should self-monitor their health and stay home if they develop symptoms of a respiratory illness, such as cough, fever, or shortness of breath/difficulty breathing. Employees who appear to be sick at work should be separated from other employees immediately and sent home.
How do I practice social distancing in public places?
For the next eight weeks, the CDC is now recommending canceling or postponing in-person events for fifty people or more (subject to change), including conferences, festivals, parades, religious services, concerts, sporting events, and weddings.
Public health officials are also recommending that healthy people stay home and avoid going out in public as much as possible. That means postponing non-essential medical appointments — or keeping them through remote consultations if offered by your healthcare provider — limiting errands, and using online services to order supplies.
When you do need to go out, such as to get groceries or visit the doctor’s office for an essential medical appointment, be sure to practice social distancing and avoid personal contact when possible. It is also critical to practice good hand hygiene during and after your outing. To avoid crowds, you can also aim to do essential errands during less busy times, such as early in the morning.
How do I practice social distancing with children?
Social distancing can be challenging for children and their parents — especially when school and activities are canceled and boredom begins to set in. However, children should follow the same social distancing recommendations as adults, keeping six feet of space between themselves and other children who do not live in their household. That means no playdates, sleepovers, birthday parties, or other social or sporting events. Children should also avoid public playgrounds or any outdoor areas where large groups of children may gather.
How do I practice social distancing with extended family members?Although it can be difficult to be isolated from extended family members, it is important to follow social distancing recommendations. Avoid hosting or attending family gatherings, such as birthday parties or family meals. Stay away from family members who are sick or vulnerable.
If you must visit family members, minimize the duration and frequency of visits. Also, make sure you are healthy, take care to maintain personal space, and practice good hand hygiene.
What activities are safe?
Going outdoors for a walk or hike is a great way to get some fresh air and exercise. Children can play in their own yards at home. If the weather isn’t great for outdoor activities, consider exercising at home by following an online video.
Many schools and teachers are putting together online resources that allow children to stay engaged with their schoolwork while schools are closed. Board games, reading a good book, puzzles, movies, cooking a meal, and baking are also ways to pass the time.
Lastly, be sure to stay in touch with friends, neighbors, and loved ones using phone, video, and social media. Staying connected to others will help us get through this together.