Social distancing is a term we have not experienced before, however, amongst the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, public health authorities across the globe have recommended we adopt social distancing into our work and social lives making this practise a household discussion.
The intent is to slow the spread of this highly contagious pathogen and to mitigate the impact the virus has on the community. We’re all feeling the gravity of the situation with children being kept home from school, businesses closing, and our own Prime Minister saying “2020 will be our hardest year ever”. Australians are waking up each morning wondering what the day will bring. These are upsetting times, so we have put together some of our thoughts on how social distancing will impact our society.
What is social distancing?
Health authorities have recommended maintaining social distancing of a minimum of 4 square metres from others in enclosed spaces, and 1.5 metres at all other times (as of 20 March 2020). Authorities in Australia started with all non-essential events of over 100 people being banned (not including schools and public transport) to today banning any social gatherings including, the closure of pubs, clubs, restaurants and places of worship. Weddings cannot exceed 5 people; funerals cannot exceed 10 people and the list goes on. As soon as this blog is published the social distancing measures will no doubt be even greater, particularly considering this has already been evidenced in other countries.
Why practise social distancing?
According to the Australian Department of Health, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness in which it takes up to 4 days of having the disease before showing symptoms. The real danger of this new virus is that people can be infected for a minimum of four whole days, living their normal lives before they are aware, they have contracted it. This allows for the virus to quickly spread.
As seen in many countries around the world the exponential growth of COVID-19 has been evidenced. Social distancing has been engaged by countries across the world, including Australia in order to slow the infection rate of the disease. Without taking these precautions there will no doubt be a rapid increase in confirmed cases. The method of social distancing has proven itself effective in all countries it has been adopted by.
Image 1.1 produced by the Australian Government (https://www.australia.gov.au) demonstrates the effect that strong social distancing measure will make on the infection rate here in Australia
What impact will Social Distancing have on our society?
Although social distancing safety precautions are assisting in slowing down the virus, lengthened periods of social isolation may have a bigger impact on the community than previously anticipated. With the inability to socialise, work and physically touch one another, I believe the patience of people to maintain their social distancing will soon wear off.
The question is then raised, what is better for the country? Self-isolation or maintaining a sense of community and togetherness. The answer is yet to become clear, will the health benefits be worth the continued isolation and prohibited social interaction? The government is yet to address that decision as there is greater need to stop the spread of COVID-19 before considering the health implications of social distancing There is no doubt, that prolonged isolation and strict distancing rules will impact the way society functions today and moving forward. Many businesses have already been closed down such as gyms, theatres, bars and sporting events and people’s ability to go out and do what they like will be a luxury long forgotten. Sadly, some businesses will not recover, others will thrive.
Australians should be preparing themselves for a tough couple of months ahead. However, by standing together in fighting this virus together and all putting in our part to keep our fellow Australians safe, I believe we will come out the other side a stronger and more thankful country.