The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) warned this week that people are not following social distancing guidelines during your outings in public parks.
This begs the question: How do the social distancing guidelines apply to public parks? Do you have to climb in ditches to avoid the others? If you’re at the supermarket, should you hide in the freezer aisle if you see someone you know? Or is it still possible to stop and chat?
For starters, the phrase “social distancing” probably contributes to the confusion. Some people have suggested that “space distancing” is a better way to visualize what has been asked of all of us.
The goal is to reduce interactions and limit the risk of transmission – not to live like a hermit. You can still interact with other humans, but not with the same laid-back closeness, pats on the back, and airy kisses that you usually use.
We’ve gone through all of the social distancing tips to try and figure out how to stay safe outside. Note that these guidelines apply to those who are doing well and are not in a high risk group. When, at a later date, we enter what the Taoiseach has called “cocooning,” older people and those with underlying health issues will need to take a more conservative stance.
But for now, the following tips should help you practice social distancing outdoors:
Keep a distance of two meters (or 6.5 feet) between yourself and other people. How can you visualize two meters without having to worry about a Junior Cert math problem at each social meeting? I measured it in my kitchen: it’s about three arm’s lengths for this average-sized adult. Not quite shouting distance, but certainly too great a distance for low-key gossip. So save this for WhatsApp.
You don’t need to hide if you see someone you know rushing towards you on a forest path. According to the HSE, you need to be within two meters of each other for about 15 minutes to risk transmission. So please don’t expose yourself to another kind of incident by jumping into a ditch or climbing a tree to avoid Tony on the other side of the road. Politely say hello to Tony and move on.
Can you meet a friend for a walk? This is a delicate question. Ideally, we should all be walking alone or only with those we already live with. But since we are all social creatures, facing long months of social isolation, we might need a sympathetic ear other than one to live with.
“Walking outside with a friend, while keeping a distance, is probably a relatively low-risk activity,” Carolyn Cannuscio, research director at the Center for Public Health Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Atlantic. She wisely adds that you probably shouldn’t meet a new friend every day, if you really want to minimize the risks.
The NPWS encourages “small walking groups – with a distance of about two meters between them”. So, if you are planning on walking with a friend, try walking somewhere that allows you to keep two feet – three good arm lengths – between you. If you really want to discharge at high volume, we suggest a remote place.
Can you find yourself with a large group of friends to walk around? In short: no. The NPWS urges people to “avoid congregating tightly in large groups, even in these outdoor spaces.” Forming a gang defeats the purpose of social isolation. So save group hangouts for Google Hangouts – or Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp.
When you are on the move, it is obviously a good idea to keep a great distance from those who have coughs and coughs. But remember that even people with mild symptoms – and those who have none, who don’t know they are infected – keep the chain of infection going.
Make sure you are not part of this chain. The advice shared by infectious disease expert Dr Graham Medley on Newsnight, which has gone viral on social media in recent days, is all about acting like you are contagious. “Imagine you have the virus and change your behavior so that you don’t pass it on. “
The coronavirus may not have hit your community yet, but act like it has. Avoid places with high traffic for your walk, such as playgrounds or busier city parks. The virus can survive on plastic and metal for two to three days, so playgrounds are risky. Instead, bring a bike or scooter for your kids.
It’s not easy to avoid races altogether, but you can make them safer and you don’t need a hazmat suit or gas mask to do so. Remember that every surface is a possible source of contamination. Bring your own disinfectant wipes and wipe down the cart handle thoroughly.
The HSE advises against using gloves instead of washing your hands, as the virus applies to them the same way it attacks your hands, and the only way to get them off is, well, with your hands. Do not touch your face during or after and wash your hands with soap and water at the first opportunity.
Some stores that are not online offer telephone orders for people who wish to avoid entering. A few even have full contactless service: you can place your order over the phone, ring the bell when you’re outside, and they’ll come out and put it in the trunk of the car for you.
A good piece of advice from Johns Hopkins University epidemiologist Dr Caitlin Rivers is to leave your cell phone in an inaccessible place – like the glove box – when shopping, so you don’t get caught by it. inadvertently.
If you find yourself in the queue, pretend you’re at Electric Picnic and the next one in the Portaloo queue. You will stay two meters behind without even having to think about it.
And when you get home from being outside, wash your hands again with warm water and soap, for at least 20 seconds, or long enough for three Baby Shark verses.