The Government has asked us all to social distance ourselves from one another in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19/ Coronavirus in Ireland, but what does that really mean?
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
Here we break down how social distancing works and how to implement it properly.
Why is social distancing important?
If you are in school or college you have probably been at home for over a week and are starting to become bored, miss your friends and want to spend time with them again. Maybe you are thinking of visiting a couple of friends over the weekend, so that you can get out of the house and spend time with the people close to you, but it is important that you do not do this.
Although spending time with one or two people outside of your household may not seem like a big deal, it is the knock on effect that these interactions can have that can endanger lives.
If you choose to meet up with a friend or a partner, in reality you are also coming into contact with everyone else that they do. We can all carry the virus without knowing, and small habits such as hugging, holding hands, high-fiving and kissing can cause it to spread rapidly.
Example: How we can spread COVID-19
If you plan to meet up with your friend in the park you might stop off in the shop on the way to buy a drink, and get public transport a couple of stops to meet them closer to where they live. When you get to the park, you and your friend might bump into another couple of people you know from school or college and chat to them for a bit before moving on. Then, you may then sit on a bench for a bit, or use other facilities in the park such as the toilets before heading home. On your way home you might stop at the shop again to top up your leap card before getting public transport.
During that day, you could have come into contact with at least seven people, while only intentionally interacting with one. You may have also come into contact with public places such as public transport, benches and bathrooms where the virus can live on surfaces for varied amounts of time.
In that situation, were you to have the virus without knowing, it could have been spread to several people. The people you interacted with during the day, may then also take public transport home, visit another friend or check in on an elderly relative to see if they are okay. In all these scenarios they then risk also unknowingly passing the virus on to the people they meet.
How to social distance
Social distancing is difficult, and when you feel healthy and do not have any symptoms it can be easy to assume that you are not at risk of spreading the virus to others. But the reality is that we can all pass the virus around, and that as young people we have a duty to prioritise the health of those who are most vulnerable in our society, such as the elderly or those with health conditions.
Making small changes to your lifestyle can make a big difference when it comes to slowing the spread of the virus. Here are 10 changes you can make to help save lives:
- Avoid leaving your house and spending time with those other than the people you live with
- Avoid sharing anything such as smokes, vapes or drinks
- Avoid kissing, hugging, shaking hands or any other unnecessary contact
- Wash your hands properly and often
- Work from home where possible
- If you must interact with people, keep a safe distance away from them at all times
- Promote reliable content on the virus to help inform friends and family
- Prioritise your mental and physical health to make social distancing easier over a longer period of time
- Support your family and those you live with to help them in their social distancing
- Follow all instructions given by the Government when and if they change
Talk to someone
If you are finding it difficult to deal with the social distancing, the uncertainty of the Coronavirus pandemic, or your feelings of loneliness, don’t be afraid to seek out help and support for it. Read our article on mental health services available during the pandemic.
Talk to someone you trust about how you feel. Sharing your feelings and worries with others can help lessen the loneliness or feeling of isolation you are going through. Read our article on how to handle feelings of loneliness when self distancing.
Feeling overwhelmed or want to talk to someone right now?
- Get anonymous support 24/7 with our text message support service
- Connect with a trained volunteer who will listen to you, and help you to move forward feeling better
- Text SPUNOUT to 50808 to begin
- Find out more about our text message support service