Social distancing: How to do it right

Keep a safe distance of 2 metres from the people around you when you are outside the confines of your home. (Rawpixel pic)

“Social distancing” is a fancy way of saying “stay away” from other people. It means keeping a significant physical distance from others and avoiding public spaces like supermarkets and social gatherings where you may find yourself in close physical contact with people.

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is crucial to initiate social distancing practices immediately.

In fact, the Malaysian government’s decision to impose the Movement Control Order (MCO) is already a step in encouraging social distancing.

Why social distancing is important

Studies are ongoing to understand the nature of Covid-19 infections.

  • Covid-19 is spread via droplets.
  • 80% of infected people show mild symptoms such as mild cough or fever.
  • The virus has an incubation period of two-14 days.
  • The disease is highly contagious.
  • People around you could be harbouring the virus and not know it yet.

Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your face. This helps control the spread of the virus.

It is also known that human-to-human transmission can effectively be limited when you stand physically at a distance from others to avoid contaminated droplets.

How to practise social distancing

  • Avoid leaving your home unless absolutely necessary.
  • Avoid having people come over to your home.
  • Avoid going to areas where you will be in close contact with others.
  • Avoid being within two metres of another person or persons.
Wash your hands frequently to keep them clear of the Covid-19 virus. (Rawpixel pic)

Common questions

Q1. How do you greet people, especially in business circles?

A: No handshakes. Keep a distance for the entire time you are in conversation with them. Greet each other from afar. A wave, a nod, or respectfully put your right palm against your left chest.

Q2. Is a small gathering among family and friends or ‘balik kampung’ permissible?

A. Can you constantly maintain a two metre distance from everyone while enjoying dinner? Is it absolutely necessary to meet?

Common sense says you cannot know for a fact that you, your relative, or a friend is clear of the virus. You know the virus is highly-infectious. You also do not know for sure how every person in this equation would respond to the virus.

Trusting each other is one thing, but can you trust the virus that may be silently waiting inside any one of you? The virus does not care about the emotional bond you share.

Q3. You absolutely have to go to the clinic or the supermarket. How do you maintain social distance?

A. Find ways to keep yourself two metres away from other people at all times. This means always being vigilant.

Try to go during non-peak hours. If somebody sits close to you in the waiting room, make the choice to get up and move away.

If you see a supermarket aisle that is crowded, choose to revisit it later. If you’re choosing food and somebody intrudes into your two-metre space, move away quickly.

It may feel like an inconvenience or that you are allowing others to bully you, but be sensible about it. Your safety is of higher priority than grumbling. Be satisfied that you’re doing all you can for you.

Here’s a tip – you might look crazy, but if you find yourself less vigilant, take an umbrella out with you. The length of your arm plus that of the umbrella should provide you ample personal space or social distance. (Don’t use it as a weapon, but as a measuring device.)

Q4. People will think you are mad for doing this. You will lose face if you walk away, or if you cancel outings when everybody else is attending.

A. Again, be sensible. You cannot control what other people say, but you can control your reactions.

If you know you have poor control over your reactions in the face of criticism, then consider not putting yourself in that position at all. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

If you are a business owner who is still allowed to operate during the MCO, implement ways to encourage your employees or customers to maintain social distance too.

Stay in touch with your family and friends during self-isolation by speaking to them on the phone. (Rawpixel pic)

Social distancing is uncomfortable and difficult but it is not the end of your social life.

  • Stay connected to family and friends via social media and phone calls.
  • Find ways to exercise at home.
  • Find activities to occupy your time at home.

And, remember to intentionally practise healthy and sanitary habits to additionally protect yourself.

Knowing how highly contagious this virus is, why would you willingly put yourself in the line of fire?

Either stay at home or stay vigilant and take an umbrella with you. Remember, six feet away or six feet under, the choice is yours.

This article first appeared in MyPF. Follow MyPF to simplify and grow your personal finances on Facebook and Instagram.