What it actually means to physically distance

What does physical distancing actually mean? 

Social and physical distancing are the words of the day, but what does this actually mean and why is it necessary? Firstly, we need to look at how COVID-19 is transmitted between people. The virus is spread via airborne droplets which spread from one human to another via contact and proximity. To minimise our exposure to the virus we therefore need to maintain a safe social distance from others wherever possible.

The Australian Government’s most up to date social distancing guideline recommends the following:

  • Stay at least 1.5 metres away from others
  • Do not shake hands or exchange physical greetings
  • Practice good personal hygiene (such as thoroughly washing your hands, especially after you have been in a public place).
  • Stay at home and only go outside if it is absolutely essential
  • Use tap and go and cashless payments wherever possible
  • Travel at quiet times and avoid crowds
  • Avoid public travel and at-risk groups such as the elderly
  • Public gatherings have been restricted to two people

Reasons for leaving the home include shopping for food, exercising in a public park (with no more than 2 people), attending medical appointments, and going to work or education provider if it is not possible to do this from home. Within your home there are further actions which you can take including

  • Keeping visitors to a minimum (read: no house parties)
  • Increasing ventilation by opening windows and doors
  • Regularly disinfecting commonly touched surfaces such as door-knobs and light switches

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation and guidelines can change daily. Check this website for updates. https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/how-to-protect-yourself-and-others-from-coronavirus-covid-19/social-distancing-for-coronavirus-covid-19

How to stay connected safely

While undoubtedly disrupting our ordinary lives, these measures are absolutely necessary to slow the spread of the virus, protect our communities, minimise the burden on our healthcare system, and save lives.

Physical distancing does NOT mean you socially distance too! One positive from this pandemic is that we will learn fun and creative ways to keep in contact with friends from afar. Staying connected is so important for our mental health and overall wellness. Check out the following ways to keep your social life thriving from your own home:

  • Netflix Party is great for a long-distance movie night with your pals.
  • Craving a house party? There’s an app for that.
  • FaceTime and Facebook Messenger are perfect for video chats with multiple people. Why not schedule in a ‘video chat hour’ every day with your friends?
  • Discord, while mainly used for gaming, can also be used for communication and chatting.
  • Bring out old school multi-player digital games like Words with Friends, Club Penguin, Minecraft (there are literally hundreds out there!)
  • Bunch is an app which lets you play mobile games with your friends
  • TikTok is the perfect way to showcase your wacky and wonderful home dance routines
  • Drawful is an app where you can be weird, artistic, and creative (like an online version of Pictionary).
  • Online meeting platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts can host one MASSIVE group chat
  • Use Twitch to watch livestreams and join an online gaming community
  • To keep it really simple, why not have a simple phone call with your best mate?

We are SO fortunate to be living in this era when staying connected is as easy as clicking a button. There are literally hundreds of apps designed for long-distance socialising. Schedule in some rituals, find something which you and your pals love, and make sure you get that compulsory dose of social interaction every day! Netflix party anyone?


For info updates on the University’s response to COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 page.

Feature image via Unsplash

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