When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic first started, we learned that social distancing was an important way to prevent the virus from spreading.
What Is Social Distancing?
Most of us call it "social distancing," but it can help to think of it as "physical distancing" instead. Social distancing puts space between people. By keeping their distance from others, people infected with the virus are less likely to spread it.
The virus mainly spreads when an infected person breathes, talks, coughs, or sneezes, which sends tiny droplets into the air. People standing nearby can get these droplets in their eyes, nose, or mouth, or they can breathe them in.
Because infected people may not have symptoms, the pandemic taught us that it is best to keep a safe distance from others. This is especially true for people at higher risk of getting COVID-19, such as those with weak immune systems or certain medical conditions, or people who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This is even more important in areas where many people still are getting infected with the coronavirus.
How Do We Keep a Safe Distance in Public?
Here are some tips on how to keep a safe distance:
Choose outdoor venues for dining or activities whenever possible, as that gives people more space to spread out.
If you must be indoors, avoid places that are crowded and don’t have good ventilation. Bring in fresh air by opening doors and windows.
When indoors or on public transportation, try to stay at least 6 feet away from other people and wear a mask (if over the age of 2).
Use drive-thru or curbside pick-up when possible for food orders and shopping. Shopping online from home is another way to keep your distance from others.
How Can We Still Be Social?
Help your unvaccinated kids stay connected with friends and extended family members through video visits or playdates. If your kids meet friends in person, help them plan small outdoor get-togethers where they can keep a safe distance from each other, such as doing sidewalk chalk art or riding bikes.
You also can plan family activities. Take a walk or a hike to get out and get active without physical contact. Try to find quiet streets or less well-known paths for these outings. It's best not to go to places where lots of people gather, especially those with things that lots of kids use, like jungle gyms.
More and more people are getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Eventually, unvaccinated kids will be able to socialize as they used to. But for now, it is safest to keep unvaccinated kids distanced from others when out in public.
Reviewed by: Jonathan M. Miller, MD and Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD