What is social distancing and how do I do it at uni: A guide

It’s time to say no to a few nights out

There is a lot of lingo and jargon being thrown around in connection to coronavirus. The most recent one is social distancing. It’s all over Twitter and everyone is being advised to do it. The name “social distancing” seems fairly self-explanatory but what does social distancing actually entail? How is it different to self-isolating? And how are students at uni meant to do it? Here are all your qualms answered:

What is social distancing?

Social distancing basically means maintaining a distance between you and other people – at least six feet. It’s different to self-isolation because you can still leave the house, however, you should limit contact with other people and large gatherings to an absolute minimum.

Social distancing is meant to encourage people to be more conscious of what they’re exposing themselves to – to avoid parties, nights out, pub trips, etc in the hope this prevents further spread of the disease.

Social distancing also means avoiding public transport whenever possible, limiting nonessential travel, choosing to work from home and skipping social gatherings. It has also been advised that we “definitely do not go to crowded bars and sporting arenas”, and that we avoid pubs and clubs. 

It sounds extreme but according to Dr. Gerardo Chowell, chair of population health sciences at Georgia State University, it is 100 per cent necessary and could save thousands of lives.


I’m a young student, do I need to do it?

Absolutely. Although you are at much less risk compared to older people, you are by no means immune.

More so, if you ignore expert advice to distance yourself, you are potentially contributing to the spread of the disease that could lead to many more deaths. The New York Times reported that you may only have mild symptoms and not realise you are carrying and spreading coronavirus. Equally, in spreading the disease, you all0w “the pandemic to grow rapidly and overwhelm the health care system”.

A helpful tweet has been going around which perfectly explains social distancing and the immense impact a few small changes could have on the effects of this disease.

How do I correctly do social distancing at uni?

Firstly, don’t stay cooped up in your student house. This is bad for so many reasons, especially your mental health. Go for walks, get some exercise, etc.

It’s also fine to go to the shops, just be aware of hygiene. Wash your hands regularly after touching anything that you know a lot of people also touched, eg shopping trollies. Also, do big shops at a time, to avoid having to go out and expose yourself as frequently.

Buying big shops is also useful to avoid going out to restaurants to eat. On expert advised, “If you’re going to go, go to some place that you trust”. Spacious restaurants are recommended. If you’re desperate for some ready-made food but don’t want to go out, order a takeaway.

Study at home rather than going to the library. The library is a hotbed for spreading germs, so if you can stay at home you’re decreasing the risk. Equally, if you’re living with housemates or in halls, use your own cutlery, plates and glasses to avoid spreading germs between you. The PM advised tody that if you live with anyone with symptoms, stay at home for 14 days.

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