One of the biggest changes we had to make when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived was the need to keep our distance from other people. For many people, this was also one of the most difficult changes.
The requirement to ‘social distance’ has now been lifted, which means you no longer need to keep two metres apart from other people, including in shops and other public settings. Although some people might be happy about this news, others might be feeling anxious about restrictions lifting, and that’s okay.
You might decide you want to continue social distancing in certain settings. That is your choice, and you should do what makes you feel most comfortable.
What does it mean to ‘social distance’?
The basic guidelines are to:
- Keep a space of 2 metres (6.5 feet) between you and other people
- Reduce interactions with people other than those you live with
- Reduce the number of people you meet every day, such as groups of friends
- Avoid communal sleeping areas, such as hostels
- Avoid crowded places
- Work from home if possible
How does social distancing prevent the spread of COVID-19?
The reason social distancing was introduced is all to do with how COVID-19 is spread. One of the most common ways of becoming infected is by coming into close contact with someone who has the virus.
COVID-19 is spread through small droplets from the nose or mouth that come into the air when a person coughs, sneezes, or exhales, and it can also be passed on by talking loudly, singing or shouting. It’s possible to breathe in these droplets if you are standing close to the person who has the virus, usually when you are within one to two metres from each other.
Staying two metres apart from others can help to reduce the spread of the virus.
If someone has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the HSE will attempt to make contact with everyone that person may have been in close contact with. Close contact includes:
- Face-to-face contact
- Spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of an infected person
- Living in the same house as an infected person
Find out what to do if you are a close contact.
Protecting yourself from COVID-19
Although social distancing is no longer a requirement, there are other ways you can protect yourself from COVID-19. This includes getting vaccinated, wearing a face mask in crowded settings or when you’re in close contact with someone, and remembering to wash your hands regularly.
Find out more about protecting yourself from COVID-19.
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