28. Physical distancing
28. Physical distancing
Last update: 2023-04-03
- Physical distancing is the practice of keeping people at a safe distance from each other during outbreaks of highly contagious diseases, to prevent diseases from spreading.
- This is different from isolation, because it is something that everyone in a community should practise, not just sick people. Physical distancing is an effective way to prevent contagious diseases from spreading.
What to do and how to do it
Encouraging physical distancing
- Promote the use of physical distancing as a method of preventing the spread of disease. It includes doing things like:
- Avoiding crowded places. For example, encourage people to:
- Pray alone or in small groups, rather than in large groups
- Do laundry near home rather than in communal areas
- Go to markets or other crowded areas at a time of day when there are fewer people there
- Avoiding non-essential gatherings. For example, encourage people to:
- Postpone weddings or similar events until safe to do so
- Avoid festivals or community gatherings until it is safe to do so
- Avoiding common greetings. For example, encourage people to avoid handshakes, hugging or kissing
- Limiting contact with people at higher risk. For example, encourage people to avoid unnecessary close contact with young children or elderly people
- Keeping a safe distance from others when possible (the distance may change depending on the disease, ask for clarification from health authorities).
- Recognize there are times when social distancing may be difficult or impossible.
- In situations when people are sharing overcrowded living spaces, such as displacement shelters, social distancing may not be possible. In cases like this it is important to: Promote the use (and, if possible, the distribution) of essential protective equipment, such as face masks.
- Social distancing may be more difficult for people working in certain sectors and locations, for example market vendors or domestic workers.
- Target these groups to raise awareness about the modes of transmission of the disease and the protective measures that they can take to minimize their exposure
- Advocate for safe working conditions and access to health services
- Be aware that social distancing can lead to isolation and may create or worsen psychosocial problems for some people.
- See Action Tool Psychosocial support to determine how to help.