Everyone must practice social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“Social distance is a measure of social separation between groups caused by perceived or real differences between groups of people as defined by well-known social categories. It manifests across a variety of social categories, including class, race and ethnicity, culture, nationality, religion, gender and sexuality, and age, among others. Sociologists recognize three key types of social distance: affective, normative, and interactive. They study it through a variety of research methods, including ethnography and participant observation, surveys, interviews, and daily route mapping, among other techniques.”
One way to slow the spread of viruses is social distancing (also called physical distancing). The more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread.
Social distancing in public means people:
stay at home unless is absolutely necessary
keep 1.5 metres away from others
avoid physical greetings such as handshaking, hugs and kisses
use tap and pay instead of cash
travel at quiet times and avoid crowds
avoid public gatherings and at risk groups
practice good hygiene
Steps for social distancing in all homes include:
stay at home unless going out is absolutely necessary
keep visitors to a minimum
reduce visits to the shops — instead, buy more goods and services online if you can for pick-up, pre-order or delivery
carefully consider what travel and outings are necessary, both individual and family
regularly disinfect surfaces that are touched a lot, such as tables, kitchen benches and doorknobs
increase ventilation in the home by opening windows or adjust air conditioning
If someone in your household is sick, you should:
care for the sick person in a single room, if possible
keep the number of carers to a minimum
keep the door to the sick person’s room closed. If possible, keep a window open
wear a surgical mask when you are in the same room as the sick person. The sick person should also wear a mask
protect other vulnerable family members by keeping them away from the sick person. At-risk people include those over 65 years or people with a chronic illness. If possible, find them somewhere else to live while the family member is sick.
If you can, work from home. If you cannot work from home and you are sick, you must not attend your workplace. You must stay at home and away from others.
Steps for social distancing in the workplace include:
stop shaking hands to greet others
hold meetings via video conferencing or phone call
put off large meetings to a later date
hold essential meetings outside in the open air if possible
promote good hand, sneeze and cough hygiene
provide alcohol based hand rub for all staff and workers
eat lunch at your desk or outside rather than in the lunch room
regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that many people touch
open windows or adjust air conditioning for more ventilation
limit food handling and sharing of food in the workplace
avoid non-essential travel
promote strict hygiene among food preparation (canteen) staff and their close contacts
consider if you can reschedule, stagger or cancel non-essential meetings
If your child is sick, they must not go to school or childcare. You must keep them at home and away from others.
To reduce the spread of viruses or germs in schools:
wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser when entering school and at regular intervals
stop activities that lead to mixing between classes and years
cancel school assemblies
have a regular handwashing schedule
regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that many people touch
conduct lessons outdoors where possible
consider opening windows and adjusting conditioning for more ventilation
promote strictest hygiene among food preparation (canteen) staff and their close contacts
Keep in touch with others
You can still keep in touch with loved ones while you practice social distancing:
use video chats
schedule phone calls to chat with others you would normally see
use online groups to interact
chat with neighbors while keeping 1.5 meters apart
Meanwhile, according to Thoughtco, there are three types of Social Distance, as authored by Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph.D. –
- Affective Social Distance
- Normative Social Distance and
- Interactive Social Distance
Affective Social Distance
Affective social distance is probably the most widely known type and the one that is the cause of great concern among sociologists. Affective social distance was defined by Emory Bogardus, who created the Bogardus Social Distance Scale for measuring it. Affective social distance refers to the degree to which a person from one group feels sympathy or empathy for persons from other groups. The scale of measurement created by Bogardus measures this by establishing the willingness of a person to interact with people from other groups. For example, an unwillingness to live next door to a family of a different race would indicate a high degree of social distance. On the other hand, willingness to marry a person of a different race would indicate a very low degree of social distance.
Affective social distance is a cause of concern among sociologists because it is known to foster prejudice, bias, hatred, and even violence. Affective social distance between Nazi sympathizers and European Jews was a significant component of the ideology that supported the Holocaust. Today, affective social distance fuels politically motivated hate crimes and school bullying among some supporters of President Donald Trump and seem to have created the conditions for his election to the presidency, given that support for Trump was concentrated among white people.
Normative Social Distance
Normative social distance is the kind of difference we perceive between ourselves as members of groups and others who are not members of the same groups. It is the distinction we make between “us” and “them,” or between “insider” and “outsider.” Normative social distance is not necessary judgmental in nature. Rather, it can simply signal that a person recognizes differences between herself and others whose race, class, gender, sexuality, or nationality may differ from her own.
Sociologists consider this form of social distance to be important because it is necessary to first recognize a difference in order to then see and understand how difference shapes the experiences and life trajectories of those who differ from ourselves. Sociologists believe that recognition of difference in this way should inform social policy so that it is crafted to serve all citizens and not just those who are in the majority.
Interactive Social Distance
Interactive social distance is a way of describing the extent to which different groups of people interact with each other, in terms of both frequency and intensity of interaction. By this measure, the more different groups interact, the closer they are socially. They less they interact, the greater the interactive social distance is between them. Sociologists who operate using social network theory pay attention to interactive social distance and measure it as the strength of social ties.
Sociologists recognize that these three types of social distance are not mutually exclusive and do not necessarily overlap. Groups of people may be close in one sense, say, in terms of interactive social distance, but far from another, like in affective social distance.