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What is social distancing?

The government has asked everyone to social distance, but what does this mean?

Social distancing is all about reducing the amount of contact you have with people. The government has advised that everyone should social distance from people who don’t live in the same house as you.

Social distancing is important as it helps to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Coronavirus is spread when people who are infected with the virus release airborne droplets, for example when they sneeze or cough, which then spread to people and objects around them.

Why should I social distance?

Even if you are feeling well and you go out to meet your friends, you or your friends could still be a carrier of the virus, even if you don’t have any symptoms. You, or them, could then pass the virus on to others.

The virus can take up to 14 days from when you have been infected to start showing symptoms, but you can still be infectious to others during this time. Whilst you may not get any symptoms, members of your family might.

Coronavirus does not just affect elderly or sick people, it can affect anyone and, while you may think that you’re fit and healthy and that it won’t affect you, there is no guarantee.

If you or others are caught not abiding by social distancing, the police have the powers to break up any gatherings and also issues fines.

Who benefits from social distancing?

While social distancing helps to reduce the spread of the virus, it more importantly helps to protect vulnerable and high risk people in the community. People who fall into this category include:

  • People over the age of 70
  • People with respiratory conditions such as Cystic Fibrosis, Asthma and COPD
  • People with a weak immune system – this can include people who are currently having chemotherapy or other medication that can affect the immune system
  • People with diabetes
  • Pregnant people

These are just some examples of the people within the high risk and vulernable groups; the list is much longer and can be viewed on the NHS website.

By minimising contact with people other than those you live with, you are helping to protect vulnerable and high risk people, which could help to save lives.

Does this mean I can’t leave the house?

Social distancing has massively changed day-to-day life for everyone. Whilst the advice is to stay at home and practice social distancing, you are still allowed to go out and get exercise.

Social distancing


Go for walks with your family, but only family members that live in the same house as you


Practice social distancing when out and stay the recommended two metres apart from any other people you might see


Wash your hands as soon as you get home after being outside


Touch your face until you have washed your hands


Leave the house unless it’s for exercise, health reasons or for food, but where possible use food delivery services


Meet up with friends or family who you don’t live with


Leave the house if you or a family member has been experiencing symptoms, and make sure the household stays in quarantine for 14 days

We’ve provided some other ways you can stay active during the coronavirus outbreak here.

How will I stay in touch with people?

There are lots of ways that you can stay in touch with friends and family despite the social distancing measures that are in place.

By using technology, you can remain in contact with everyone. You can do this via:

  • Phone calls
  • Video calls
  • Whatsapp
  • Text messages
  • Emails
  • Voice messages
  • Social media

Social distancing can be hard, especially if you miss your friends and family, but staying at home and keeping people safe is important, and is something that everyone needs to do.

Looking after your own emotional health during the coronavirus is so important, and we’ve got advice on how to do that here.

REMEMBER social distancing only works if we all do it. By social distancing, you can help reduce the spread of the virus, which will help save lives.

Find help in your local area

Find out what services are available to you in your area. Remember your school nurse is always there to give you confidential help and support.

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