What is Social Distancing?

What Tofitians Can Do to #FlattenTheCurve

The World Health Organization and higher levels of government have called for collective action to stop the spread of COVID-19.  Social Distancing (or physical distancing) means making a conscious effort to keep a physical distance between each other so that we can flatten the epidemic curve and reduce our impact on health care resources. 

The province has already implemented some ‘social distancing’ initiatives by closing schools and issuing orders to close bars, personal service establishments, and large gatherings, however there are things you can do right now to “flatten the curve” (slow the spread of the virus).

What is Social Distancing?

The best way to slow down the spread of this virus is for everyone — healthy, sick, young, old — to limit physical contact as much as possible. This is called social distancing, or physical distancing.  It refers to being physically apart from other people while maintaining social connections in a virtual way.  

  • Social distancing means reducing physical contact with others.
  • Social distancing means keeping at least two metres apart when in public.
  • Social distancing means staying home and only going out for essential needs like food or medicine.
  • Social distancing means using technology to keep in contact with friends and family, and arranging virtual playdates for your children.
  • Social distancing means working from home and helping your employees to either stay home or to work from home.

What it’s not:

  • Having your friends over for dinner or for coffee is not social distancing.
  • Gathering in groups in parks and beaches without remaining 2 metres apart from others outside your household is also not social distancing.
  • Visiting friends or family in long-term care homes or hospital is not social distancing.
  • Stopping at a grocery store to stock up after travel is not social distancing.

Why? How does it work?

Social distancing (or physical distancing) is proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak. By slowing the spread of the virus, we can prevent our healthcare systems from becoming overwhelmed, which may prevent avoidable deaths and allow those who require care to access it.

Although older people and those with underlying health conditions are most vulnerable to the virus, young people are by no means immune and may spread the virus before they are symptomatic.

Is it safe to have friends over?

This is not the time to have friends over. We are learning that COVID-19 transmission may happen through people that aren't showing symptoms. The goal of social distancing (physical distancing) is to reduce the probability of transmissions, and anything to decrease that is what is needed now.

How do you talk about social distancing with a partner or roommate?

Have an open and honest conversation with housemates about how you feel about socializing with others outside the household, and about the potential risk of germs being brought into the house if your housemates are not social distancing.  Explain that the goal is to decrease the risk of transmission and of infecting a lot of people at the same time. It may seem like as an individual you have little affect on the spread of COVID-19, but you actually have a very important role in breaking the chain of transmission because for every person who gets infected, they will likely spread the virus to two or three others.

We recognize that social distancing measures are likely to have secondary consequences for individuals, families and businesses, such as loss of income, an elevated need for support services, and reduced availability of supports. The Vancouver Island Crisis Line is available to help anyone who is experiencing anxiety, or requires support. Visit https://www.vicrisis.ca/, text 250-800-3806, or phone 1 888-494-3888.

View and Print the Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidelines for Social Distancing: https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/phac-aspc/documents/services/publications/diseases-conditions/social-distancing-infograph/social-distancing-infograph-eng.pdf